The Rocky Mountain Family Lawyers are Denver’s award-winning family law trial advocates. We’re experts in child support cases in Denver and other cities throughout Colorado.
Call us today to talk personally with a lawyer about with your Denver child support issues. (303) 502-9600.
How is Child Support Calculated?
Child support is calculated based on a statutory formula that takes into account the gross income of each party, the number of children, and the number of annual overnights each parent has. This base amount is then adjusted to account for health insurance costs for the children, out of pocket medical expenses and a limited number of so-called “extraordinary” expenses.
Courts generally only deviate from this formula if both parties agree or there are some unusual circumstances and the deviation will not negatively impact the children.
Absent an agreement between the parties, an order for child support will not be modified unless there has been a “substantial and continuing change in circumstances” that occurred since the existing child support order was issued. A court may also modify child support if the existing order does not contain a provision regarding medical support for the child, such as insurance coverage, payment for medical insurance deductibles and copayments.
What is Substantial and Continuing?
Under Colorado law a change in circumstances is not “substantial” unless the child support payment goes up or down by at least 10 percent per month. For example, if Fred pays $500 per month in child support, neither party should file a motion seeking to change that amount unless he or she has a good faith reason to believe that the payment will go up or down by at least $50 per month.
The change that is the basis of the motion to modify must also be permanent or ongoing rather than merely temporary. Merely losing one’s job or suffering a temporary economic set-back is not enough to permanently modify child support. Also, because child support is based on the parties’ incomes rather than their expenses, many courts will ignore changes in either party’s debts or expenses unless they are related to the children.
Can I Modify Child Support Retroactively in Colorado?
Any change in child support will date back to the date a motion to modify is filed but not earlier. This is true even if there is a substantial and continuing change of circumstances long before the motion is filed. If there has been a mutually agreed-upon change in physical custody of the child, the modification will be effective as of that date, at least in theory. Whether a party “agreed” to a change in physical custody may be inferred from his or her actions or non-actions. Courts may not apply the change retroactively if to do so would result in undue hardship or substantial injustice.
What if Parents Have Left the State?
If a Colorado court issues a child support order, it will retain exclusive and continuing jurisdiction over the issue as long as one of the parties or the child continues to live in Colorado. The parties may consent to transfer jurisdiction to another State.
If both parents have left the state, the state where obligor (the parent who is required to pay) lives will normally have jurisdiction to modify child support.
Do You Need an Attorney to Modify Child Support?
If you are merely trying to modify child support it may not be cost effective to hire an attorney to help you. That being said, if you either owe or are owed substantial arrears or have other parenting issues to resolve, you should consult with an experienced family lawyer to determine whether you need legal representation.
The Rocky Mountain Family Lawyers are Colorado child support experts. Call us now to discuss your legal options and rights concerning child support in Denver, Colorado and surrounding cities (303) 502-9600.