Many aspects of a divorce or parental arrangement can be modified by the consent of each party or via court order. This is crucial as many arrangements that make sense at the time they are put in place fail to meet the reality of a situation years down the road. When modification becomes necessary or one party fails to uphold his or her end of the agreement, it is important to have the advice and representation of a knowledgeable Denver modification and contempt of court lawyer.
At Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C., modification and contempt is a special area of expertise for our Denver family law lawyers. We have the experience and resources our clients need on their side to achieve successful outcomes in modification and contempt cases.
Our team has particular expertise handling modification cases centered on spouses who are cohabiting with a new partner. Our Denver modification attorneys are available to speak on this topic and have had our work on the subject published by The Colorado Lawyer.
No one should take on the challenges of navigating the court order modification process alone. A Denver modification attorney with years of experience representing clients’ interests can help you when life circumstances change enough to justify modifying an existing order. Your modification lawyer can assist your case in the following ways:
Your success may depend on representation from a skilled modification lawyer who understands your circumstances and knows exactly what’s required to prove your side of the story in court.
Most family law court orders prohibit petitioners from requesting modifications such as child support payment modifications, sooner than 2 years after the initial order unless the child’s safety or welfare is at stake.
For requests to change parenting time orders, a parent may petition for a modification based on a change in their circumstances or those of their children, for instance, a military deployment or work move on the parent’s part, or if one parent develops an addiction, engaged in abusive or neglectful behavior, or is convicted of a crime.
In order for modification to be approved, there must be a significant material change. For example, the loss of a job or the start of a new career could lead to modification of child support due to the change in a parent’s income. Allocation of parental responsibility could be modified due to the changing needs of a child or a parent seeking to relocate. Common reasons behind requests to modify child support or custody orders include:
The courts will not grant a modification request if there has not been a substantial change in your circumstances since the original order was given. For financial grounds for modification, for example, you generally must show at least a 10 percent change from the first order. You will need to give a good reason and support it with evidence. Our Denver modification attorneys can help you determine whether your situation represents a material change in circumstances and diligently pursue an outcome that protects your interests.
In Colorado, you must request a modification to a divorce decree or another type of court order in writing. Start by gathering information supporting your request, as the courts will ask to see this during the modification process. The courts will need documentation that proves your change in circumstance. Note that if you created the change yourself, such as by quitting your job and refusing to search for a new one, the courts will not grant your request. The change in circumstance must be outside of your control or necessary.
You can request a modification either as the person who has experienced a change in circumstance or as the other spouse, such as if you know your ex-spouse got a new job with a higher salary but he or she hasn’t reported the new income to the courts. Once you have evidence supporting your request, discuss the situation with your ex. If you can both agree to the modification, the legal process is simpler. You will file a stipulation with the same court that issued the initial decree for approval. If approved, the new order will go into effect immediately.
If you and your ex don’t agree on the change, you will need to file a Motion to Modify with the court along with a sworn affidavit with your financial disclosures and a child support worksheet that shows how you calculated the new amount. Your ex-spouse will need to be served with a copy of the motion and given the chance to contest the change at a hearing. Your divorce decree may stipulate that you have to attend mediation before a court hearing, depending on the situation.
For a judge to consider modifying an existing order per your request, you have the burden of proving a significant financial change or changed circumstances. Your Denver modification lawyer will help you fill out the following forms:
If both parties agree to the change it isn’t necessary to go to court and the agreement between both parties becomes effective on the filing date. If you are requesting a change in the parenting time schedule, custody, or visitation, you may be required to show evidence of a change in circumstances such as military deployment orders, a work transfer request, or other evidence to show that the change is either unavoidable or in the best interests of the children.
The process of getting approval for the modification of a court order can take up to six months. First, you and your Denver modification lawyer must gather relevant documents as evidence and file the petition. If both parties agree to the change, it takes effect upon the filing date. If the request is made by one party and the other disagrees, the judge could make an immediate decision which would go into effect right away.
If the judge decides he needs to review evidence and testimony from both parties, he or she has up to 49 days to schedule a hearing. When the judge sets a date for a hearing, the responding side receives a copy of the hearing date information. When the hearing takes place, the other side has the right to present counterarguments and evidence of their own if they wish to argue against the modification request. In most cases, the judge will make a decision that day and it goes into effect immediately.
Even when both parties agree on a course of action for modifying an agreement or court order, it is important to go through proper channels to obtain court approval. Otherwise, either party could be found in contempt of court. Being found in contempt means the courts penalize an individual for failing to uphold his or her end of a court order or divorce agreement. A contempt order for ignoring a child support or child custody order could lead to the following penalties:
Whether you wish to hold your ex-spouse in contempt of court for breaching your agreement or are facing contempt orders in Denver, Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. can help you. We are able to assist people who are pursuing contempt orders as well as defend against these orders in courts throughout Colorado. We can work to prove that you did not in fact violate a court order, for example, or aim to show that your ex-spouse is in breach of a divorce agreement. Your Denver contempt of court lawyer will work hard to achieve your case goals, whatever they may be.
When you fail to make court-ordered payments of child or spousal support or don’t follow the court’s directions, orders, or rules, the judge in that jurisdiction issues a form of legal punishment and deterrent through a contempt of court charge. An act of non-compliance for custody, visitation, child support payment, or spousal maintenance may result in a contempt of court charge. You will then have to face a hearing and possible fine and/or jail time, depending on the nature of your non-compliance.
If your spouse has ceased paying the child support or spousal maintenance owed to you or is seriously in arrears, you can petition the court to hold him or her in contempt through the following steps:
You may need documents to prove the non-payment violation of a court order. Documents may include the following:
If you are charged with contempt of court in Colorado, contact an attorney as soon as possible. An attorney can draft a defense to show your reasons for nonpayment if you have good cause. If the contempt charge is for non-payment of an order, it’s best to pay the amount owed as soon as you can arrange it. The court will take this into consideration at the hearing.
You should never simply stop paying court-ordered child support or spousal maintenance regardless of a dramatic change in your circumstances. Instead, always keep up with your payments while seeking a modification of the order based on your changed circumstances. Contempt charges could not only result in a possible arrest and jail time but could also come with fines that could worsen your financial circumstances.
The Denver modification and contempt of court attorneys at Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. have over 100 years of combined legal experience. We will use our expertise in family law to assist you with your unique legal matter in Denver, Colorado. Our law firm is ready to guide you to the best possible outcome in your modification of contempt case. Contact us to schedule a case evaluation with our Denver modification lawyers.
Litigation is a journey. This is a journey we have taken with our clients a countless number of times. If you face the uncertainty, risk, fear, anger, or disbelief that comes with the prospect of going through a legal dispute, the law firm of Ciancio Ciancio Brown, P.C. will help you through it.