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Circumstances change: Modifying child support agreements to match

For many Colorado families, child support functions as a source of income to meet the needs of the child. Colorado bases child support on the belief that parents should allocate the same amount of funds towards raising the child as if the child still lived in an intact household.

To calculate child support, courts factor in the incomes of both parents and the time with the child allocated to each parent. When incomes or custody changes, parents may wish to modify the child support order.

Time for a change

Child support orders need to match the current needs and circumstances of both the child and the parents. Depending on the age of the child when the parents separated, a parent may need to pay child support for many years until the child reaches emancipation age. Over that period either parent may experience a change in circumstances or have significant unforeseen expenses.

Colorado courts allow parents to modify child support orders to better align with any life changes that affect child support calculation. Changes meriting a child support modification include a change in income, new or reduced medical insurance coverage, increased or decreased child care costs or a shift in the number of over nights each parent has with the child.

Meeting the minimum change requirement

If both parents agree on a proposed child support modification, the change may take place after the parties sign an agreement. When parents cannot reach an agreement, a Motion to Modify is filed with the court and the case proceeds before a judge. The change in the child support amount must be at least 10 percent, in either an increase or decrease, for the courts to grant a modification request. If the court grants a modification request, the court may retroactively apply the new order to the date of the Motion to Modify filing.

The only constant in life is change and child support agreements are not immune. When changes affect the life circumstances or either parent, it may be time to modify a child support order.

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