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When can a child support order be changed?

Many parents in Colorado might not realize that a child support order can be changed. A modification is often necessary when financial circumstances change.

According to the law, there will be a modification of the child support when the amount is recalculated based on child support guidelines and there has been a change of a minimum of 10 percent when that is compared to the current order. It can be 10 percent higher or 10 percent lower. Changes that can necessitate a modification of the child support order can be a change in income of either the supporting parent or the receiving parent. Calculating the difference from what the guideline says and what the change is can help parents decide if they qualify for the modification under the law.

In addition to the financial changes, there are other reasons why there might be a request for a child support modification. If there is a substantial change in the parental responsibility time and the child is not spending the same amount of time at a parent's home, this can be cause for a modification. It is not unusual for a parent to lose his or her job. This can be a reason for a modification. A parent might go back to school. This too can warrant a modification of child support.

While all these factors are important, the 10 percent change is the key. Some parents can be under the impression that remarrying or the other parent remarrying will automatically entitle them to a modification. In truth, the guidelines use the parents' incomes to decide how much the child support will be and if there are modifications necessary based on the 10 percent change. The income of the new spouse is irrelevant. So too is it irrelevant if the parent marries someone with children of their own and there are greater financial needs. That will not be a part of the decision to modify a child support order.

The financial needs of the child are paramount, but there are situations when the modification of child support is justified under state law. If that is the case, it is important to have legal help to make the changes official. A lawyer experienced in child support can be of assistance.

Source: childsupport.state.co.us, "A Parent's Guide to Child Support -- Modifying a Child Support Order, pages 13-14," accessed on March 5, 2018

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