Modification of Child Support

In Colorado, child support obligations generally continue until the youngest receiving child reaches his or her 19th birthday. That is a long span of time and situations can change, so you can have your child support order modified. If you feel that your child support order needs to be changed, speak to the aggressive team at The Burnham Law Firm as soon as possible.


Grounds for modification

The general standard for child support modification in Colorado is that you need to be able to show that there has been a significant and continuing change that will make the support amount go down or up by at least 10%. If, for example, you were paying $600 each month but now have a job that pays less and would now pay $540 with your new income, you would be able to receive a modification. If, however, your new income makes the support amount $541, that is less than a 10% difference and the support would likely remain unchanged.

Child support is determined by more than just income. It includes factors such as the number of children, health insurance, day care costs and how many overnight visits the non-custodial parent has each year. When a person seeks a modification, it’s usually due to a change in at least one of these factors which has led to a change in the original order amount of at least 10%. People lose or change jobs, salary goes up and down, or as children age, daycare becomes unnecessary and parenting time may change. One of two children may turn 19 and no longer be a factor in the support calculation.

At the same time, there are some changes people assume warrant a modification when that is not actually the case. Either parent remarrying may be a factor in spousal support, for example, but not child support. If you are not sure whether your change in circumstances calls for a child support modification, speak to your attorney before filing to save time and filing fees.


The process and timeline

A modification is generally retroactive back to the date you filed the motion for it. Because of this, you should file as soon as you confirm a change to the support is needed. Otherwise, you could up end overpaying for months or receiving less than you’re entitled to. Keep in mind that the court can opt not to make the new amount retroactive if it believes it would create a financial hardship by doing so, although this is less common.

Retroactivity can also occur when there is an agreed-upon change of the residential custody of at least one of the children the support award is for. It’s generally preferable to seek a child support modification as soon as you can after custody has changed, but in some cases, people wait for months or even years to have the support amount changed.

For child support modification, the person requesting the change has to complete a motion to modify the support. On this motion, you need to list the grounds that justify your request and attach any supporting papers you have. The motion is filed in court, and a copy has to be served on the other parent in the support case. Within 49 days of the filing, the court will review your motion and either grant the modification or schedule a hearing at which you and the other parent can make your cases. You must attend this hearing; otherwise, the court can simply dismiss your request and you will have wasted time and money on the filing fees.


While you are waiting to hear from the court, it’s important that you continue to pay the original support amount even if you believe the amount is far too high. Child support is a serious obligation that can be court-enforced, and you cannot adjust the amount on your own without risking trouble down the road.

Colorado law and the courts do recognize that jobs, people and children change when it comes to child support. If you truly believe the changes in your situation call for a new child support amount, it’s important that you contact The Burnham Law Firm to discuss your case with an experienced attorney. If you and the other parent do agree to a modification but don’t put the matter in writing and file it with the court, you run the risk of not having the agreement honored later. Some judges and any child support enforcement agencies involved in your support case will not recognize an agreement that has not been filed with the court. To make your modification official, you must have it handled within the court system.