Posted by: Vernon Ready
Category: Child Support
If you are a parent, you already know that “children are expensive” is an understatement. Whether you’re buying diapers or textbooks, the financial obligations of a parent always seem to keep building and building.
This is why Colorado puts child support payments in place for divorced parents. One parent cannot typically support a child (not to mention multiple children) on their own, especially if the divorce is sudden and the financial obligations of single parenthood were not planned.
The basics of how the system works are pretty simple: a judge will determine how much a non-custodial parent will have to pay each month to satisfy the financial needs of each child. You can read more information on how child support payments are calculated here.
These rulings are put into place until the child turns 19 (or later, if the child has significant physical or mental disabilities, and must be in the care of a guardian as an adult).
For many, this may be a long time from the time you and your ex divorce. Say you have a 2-year-old at the time of your divorce. Are you really going to have to pay the same amount of child support for the next 17 years?
Yes and no.
These orders are put into place and remain a legal obligation of the non-custodial parent… until the court changes the order. Yes, that’s right. This order can be modified, though only in certain situations.
The original child support order is decided based on each parent’s income, as well as the child custody arrangement and the overall well-being of the child. Income is the primary factor in modifying child support orders.
Colorado state law says that a support order can be changed if there is at least a 10% difference in the overall calculation of child support. Before you file for a support modification, you should do a quick estimate through an online calculator or a consultation with a lawyer of how much your child support costs would be if you and your ex divorced now. If that number is at least 10% more or 10% less than what you are paying in child support right now, you may be able to take this modification to court.
The Colorado Department of Human Services recommends a review of your child support order every three years. Other factors that may call for a review include the emancipation of one child, or the change in overnight visits for each parent.
One thing that’s important to note is that changing alimony or custody arrangements will not necessarily allow child support payments to be changed. This is because this type of order is different than alimony payments or child custody agreements.
Alimony can be terminated when a spouse remarries – this is not the case with child support. No matter who your ex marries, and no matter what they can provide for your children, you will still have to pay child support. Alimony may also be changed if you change jobs or take a pay cut while you are in school.
Child support may be altered at these points, but only if the change in income leads to a 10% difference in calculated child support payments. Otherwise, you are stuck paying the same amounts that were originally ordered during your divorce.
So maybe you got a job with less pay, or you are going back to school and cannot afford child support payments like you used to, but your child support cannot be modified. Or maybe your child support order is set to change, but will not do so for another six months (this is the average time the Colorado Department of Human Services says a child support modification will take).
Unfortunately, these obligations still have to be met.
Your ex can bring you to court for failing to pay child support by pressing charges for contempt of court. If you are found guilty, the money you owe will be intercepted from your paychecks, tax returns, lottery winnings, or your assets may be threatened. Even though an unfavorable child support agreement may make you feel spiteful or upset, failing to pay as retaliation will only hurt you – and your child – in the end.
If your petition to modify child support are rejected, you may still be able to take legal action to change your child support order. A Colorado family lawyer can walk you through the legal action that may be taken, as well as the evidence and documentation you will need to build your case. Give us a call today for a free consultation.
About the Author:
Vernon Ready is an award-winning Colorado lawyer with an in-depth understanding of all areas of family law, estate planning, and personal injury. His energetic and aggressive advocacy approach allow him to successfully navigate complex cases, including high asset divorce and complicated custody issues. During his time at the University of Colorado Law School, Ready won numerous awards for his trial advocacy skills. Since being admitted to practice in 2009, Ready has become well-known throughout Denver and the state for the passionate defense of his clients and his unparalleled understanding of the law.