Colorado Criteria to Modify Child Support

The requirement to modify Colorado child support under C.R.S. 14-10-122 is that there has been a “substantial and continuing” change in circumstances, which indicates there would be at the very least a 10% change in the amount of child support paid or received.

Usually, variables which may result in a Colorado child support modification include a substantial change in revenue, reduced or eliminated daycare costs as the child get older, a modified parenting plan, or a child that emancipates and is no longer subject to a support order.

Retroactive Modification

Domestic Courts in Colorado will ordinarily apply a child support modification retroactively to the date that a motion to modify child support was filed or the date that the parties mutually agreed to a change in the child’s residence between the parties.

The Child Dependency Exemption

The child dependency exemption may also be affected by a modification of child support.   Normally the parties agree to alternate the child dependency exemption by year if there is only one child or split the exemption by child if there is more than one child. However, if the parties cannot agree the court will allocate the right to claim dependent children for income tax purposes between the parties. These rights shall be allocated between the parties in proportion to their contributions to the costs of raising the children. There are limitations to the child dependency exemption as follows:

  • A parent shall not be entitled to claim a child as a dependent if he or she has not paid all court-ordered child support for that tax year.
  • If claiming the child as a dependent would not result in any tax benefit.

Termination of Child Support

Child support orders entered after July 1, 1997 terminate automatically under Colorado Law without the requirement of submitting a motion to terminate child support to the court only after the last or only child attains 19 years of age, unless:

The parties entered into an agreement after July 1, 1997, which offered support to proceed longer.

The child subject to the support order is mentally or physically handicapped.

The child subject to the support order remains in high school, or an equivalent program, in which case support continues until the end of the month following high school graduation.

The child subject to the support order marries before turning 19, however, support may be restored if the marital relationship terminates while the child subject to the support order is still under 19 years of age.

The child subject to the support order enters active duty military before transforming 19.

Please note that if there is more than one child that is subject to a child support order the child support order does not automatically terminate when the oldest child or second oldest child turns 19 years of age. Automatic termination of child support only occurs when the “last or only” child subject to a child support orders attains 19 years of age. This is important because the obligor (the parent paying child support) must file a motion to modify child support if there are two children, or more, subject to a support order and one of them emancipates. If a motion to modify is not filed the obligor will continue to pay child support for a child that is emancipated.

Informal Modifications of Separation Agreements

Many times parties will come to “informal” or “casual” agreements that modify the permanent orders of their divorce after the court proceedings are concluded. This is always encouraged because the parties are always better equipped to make decisions for their children and themselves than are the the courts.

However, all to often the parties make these “informal” or “casual” agreements verbally to one another when times are good and the parties are getting along with one another.   Unfortunately, this is often a critical mistake.  Sooner or later the parties have a disagreement and one of the parties becomes disenchanted with the other.  As soon as this happens one of the parties seeks to hold the other party to the original court order, which is legally exactly what happens.

It’s wonderful when people can work with one another and not have to file motions with the court and litigate everything in order to make changes that fit their lifestyle. However, unless the court knows of these changes the only order that matters is the last order that the court entered. These types of missteps can have serious consequences for the parties especially when the issues of child support or spousal maintenance are the issues that were “informally” modified. As an example, the parties could “informally” agree that the party paying child support of $1000.00 per month to the other would only pay child support of $500.00 per month going forward. In theory it works well, there are no attorney’s fees, no going to court, and the parties agreed among themselves to reach a solution to their problem. This is, of course, until the party receiving child support becomes angry with the party paying child support at some point in the future. At that point the court order of $1000.00 per month is still in force and the party which only paid half of the court ordered child support will, most likely, be liable for the other half for the entirety of the time that they only paid half of the court ordered support.

Arnold & Associates has years of experience in crafting out of court agreements and stipulations which both modify the parties original separation agreement and protect the client from future harm or penalty. The parties come to an agreement, an appropriate legal document is crafted to meet the needs of the client, and that document is filed with the court to create a new court order.

Modification of Prior Court Orders Requires a Knowledgeable Attorney

Changing the terms of a prior Colorado divorce agreement requires experience and thoroughness so that the client does not face future harm or penalty. In a case of a court hearing, having a seasoned attorney is that much more crucial. Get in touch with Paul Arnold for an initial consultation.