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Colorado Child Support Modification

Created by FindLaw's team of legal writers and editors.

Colorado law recognizes that an increase or decrease in child support is sometimes appropriate. To change the support amount, the parent seeking the change must show an “ongoing and substantial" change in circumstances that makes the terms of the current support order unfair. Child support can also be modified if the original order does not mention who will pay for medical expenses. Child support does not change without a court order.

The Basics of Child Support Modifications in Colorado

While it can seem like it should be a simple thing to change a child support order, understanding when a court is likely to grant a motion to change child support can be difficult. Below are some basics you should know when determining if changing your child support order is possible.

Statute

Colorado Revised Statutes Section 14-10-122

Child Support Guidelines

As with the initial child support order, courts will use child support guidelines to determine any new child support order, although they can increase or decrease the guideline amount if there is a good reason to.

What Is a “Substantial” Change?

Any new amount of child support must change by at least 10% or it is not considered “substantial.”

As just one example, an annual raise by one parent will not justify a modification until the increases add up to a 10% change under Colorado’s current guidelines. Beyond that, it is up for the court to decide whether a change in circumstances meets the definition of “substantial.”

What if Parents Agree to a Change in the Support Amount?

Since support orders don’t change without a court order, unofficial agreements to modify the amount of support can backfire. Child support is always due in full and on time. A verbal – or even written – agreement between the parents won’t change that without the court becoming involved.

Agreeing Together About a Change

To get an official change in child support when both parents agree it is appropriate, the parents must file a stipulation with the court. A stipulation just means that both parties have already agreed on something prior to filing with the court. The court will take that into account when determining whether a change is appropriate.

When Only One Parent Wants the Order to Change

If only one parent seeks to modify the child support amount, that parent must file a motion with the court. In that case, the parent filing for the change is the petitioner, and the other is the respondent.

If both parents don’t agree on whether a child support modification is appropriate, or the amount of the change, the court may set a hearing date for both sides to present arguments.

When Does a Modification Take Effect?

A modification takes effect after the motion is filed. It does not begin from the date of the change of circumstance.

For example, if the parent paying support becomes disabled and subsequently seeks to decrease the child support amount owed, the change would take effect on the date the paying parent filed a motion with the court, not the date the payor became disabled. This means it is important to file for a modification as soon as possible after the change in circumstances.

Common Reasons a Court May and May Not Change Child Support

Requests to change child support are common. While there is no guarantee a child support order can change, below are a few examples of instances when a change is, and is not, appropriate.

When Is a Modification Appropriate?

  • A job change with different pay
  • Increased medical expenses
  • A change in overnight stays by the child.

When Is a Modification not Appropriate?

  • The paying parent disagrees with how existing support is spent
  • Either parent has increased expenses unrelated to the child, for example a higher mortgage or new car payment
  • The paying parent intentionally lowered income to avoid paying child support

Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.

Related Resources

If you are looking to get unpaid child support, you can visit our child support enforcement section to learn more. You can also learn more by visiting:

Discuss Your Circumstances With a Lawyer

If you are considering asking the court to change your child support order, you can contact a Colorado family law attorney to get started. An attorney can advise you on whether it is worth seeking a modification and how best to present your case.

Next Steps: Search for a Local Attorney

Contact a qualified attorney.