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What to Expect at a Child Support Modification Hearing in Colorado

By Tolison & Williams / December 20, 2018

Two hands encroaching paper cutouts of parents and a childWhether you are the one paying support or receiving it, there are times when it’s appropriate to make changes to the previously agreed upon child support in your case. This process can be complex and stressful for all involved. To navigate the situation, make sure you have  enough information beforehand about the entire process. 

Child Support Modification Explained

Child support modification is a petition to the court to adjust the amount of child support that one parent pays to another. These petitions can be filed for several reasons:

  • There is a significant change in income or expenses to one or both parents.
  • A child reaches the age of 19, or becomes emancipated earlier. 
  • There is a change in the amount of time the child spends with each parent.
  • The child has special educational needs. 
  • There is a change to health insurance coverage. 

There is no limit to the number of modifications that can be made. However, the court does require that there be a significant change in circumstances. The petition for change must result in a 10% adjustment in the amount of child support paid or more. The exception to this is when the reason for seeking the modification is healthcare-related. These petitions are always considered. 

In addition to child support modification petitions, child support can also be modified automatically. The Colorado child support enforcement unit has a process called review and adjustment for this purpose. 

What to Expect at Your Child Support Modification Hearing

How things proceed depends on whether or not the parents agree to the change. If both agree, they simply fill out the forms including a stipulation for child support modification, sworn financial statements, and others. These are then mailed to the court with a filing fee. The court will then review the documents, and if justified, create a new child support order.

If the parents do not agree, then there will be a hearing. The parent who files must not only file with the court, but must also arrange for the other parent to receive the motion as well. Under Colorado family law, if support is changed, it will be backdated to the date of the filing, but not before. This means that it’s beneficial to file the petition as soon as possible.

Sometimes the judge can decide to resolve the case without a hearing. Otherwise, they will review the petition and schedule a hearing. When that happens, both parents will have an opportunity to state why they believe child support should or should not be changed. Both parents are entitled to have an attorney present during this hearing.

The Judge’s Decision During The Child Support Modification Hearing

During the hearing, the judge will take into consideration each parent’s statements as well as any evidence they or their attorneys present. Then they will issue a decision on whether or not the existing child support order should be changed and by how much. Keep in mind that judges will almost always follow existing child support statutes. 

However, in some cases, they do have discretion. For example, parents disagree that child support should be changed in order to send a child to a private school, the judge may use their discretion to rule in favor or against that depending on the evidence presented.

Child support can have a major financial impact on any household. The subject can also create great emotional hardship. A qualified family law attorney from Tolison & Williams can help parents on either side of this situation. We can help draft and file documents, provide legal advice, even inform the parent whether or not it is a wise idea to proceed with a child support modification case. It’s always a wise idea to seek legal counsel before proceeding in these cases.

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