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Modifying Child Support Payments

A parent’s child support payments can be modified when changes occur in the parent’s or the child’s life. Understanding when child support can change may save a parent time and money when trying to determine whether to go back to court and get support changed.

Factors which are taken into consideration are: the mother’s income; the father’s income; work-related day care expenses; the child’s non-covered medical expenses for an ongoing medical condition which costs more than $100 per month; the health insurance premium cost for the child; the number of overnights the child spends with each parent and whether the child attends private school to accommodate special needs. When one of these factors changes and application of the Colorado Child Support Guidelines shows that the change in support will be at least ten percent more than the previous child support amount, a change may be made.

Physical custody is an important factor to consider. If there is a voluntary change in physical custody (for example, the child used to live primarily with mom but has voluntarily and with mom’s consent moved in with dad), child support should be modified retroactive to the date when physical custody changed. If a child spends 93 or more overnights per year with a parent, the paying parent’s child support obligation will go down significantly.

Remarriage is generally not a change in circumstances which will result in a change in support. A new spouse’s income is not considered when determining child support. Furthermore, the new spouse’s financial contribution to the new household is generally not a factor to be considered when determining child support.

Any changes should be put in writing and submitted to the Court for approval. If that step is not taken, legal problems could occur in the future if one party denies the new child support arrangements were made.

Parents should consider an annual review of child support matters to determine if an adjustment needs to be made. If the numbers have changed but the parties don’t take any action to formally change the child support arrangements, the parties will be stuck with the existing arrangements and may not be able to retroactively change the child support. Review of child support matters shortly after April 15 of each year is an effective way for parents to stay current on child support issues.

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