This is a common question among separated parents dealing with child support. If your former spouse recently got a new job or a promotion, can you get higher child support payments from them? Or if you are the payor (the parent who’s paying child support), will your monthly obligation go up if your income increases?
In Colorado, this is possible, but it does not happen automatically. Before child support payments can increase, the payee will have to ask the court to modify the child support order, and the court will decide whether to order this modification.
An Important Rule In Modifying CO Child Support
There are various situations that may warrant a change in the child support order. One of the most common is the paying parent’s income increase. It could also be that there is a change in the number of overnight visits that either parent has with the child. Or, the child may have a new significant need that incurs costs, such as medical expenses.
No matter what the scenario is, Colorado law has one main standard in deciding whether to modify child support: there should be a “substantial and continuing” change in circumstances. More precisely, this substantial and continuing change should be enough to alter the child support amount by 10 percent or more.
If you are requesting increased payments because your ex-spouse is earning more, the court will recalculate the child support amount using their new income. If the new amount is at least 10 percent higher than the previous one, the court will update the support order accordingly so you get higher monthly payments.
How To Request CO Child Support Modification
You must file either a “Stipulation to Modify Child Support” or a “Motion to Modify Child Support”. A “stipulation” is a written document that you and your ex-spouse have prepared – in other words, it is what you file when both of you agree on the change in child support. If you are the only one pursuing this change, the document you want to file with the court is the “motion”.
There are other forms you must provide when filing either document. The Colorado Courts website provides step-by-step instructions.
Once you’ve completed the filing, the court will review your request. If you have filed a motion, it is possible that the court will set a hearing with you and your former spouse before it rules on your motion.
If the court decides to modify your child support order, thus increasing the monthly payments, this modification will generally be retroactive to the date of filing. For example, if you are a payee parent who filed a motion in February, and the court increased your support amount only the following June, you can expect to receive additional ‘back pay’ for your four months of waiting.
With this in mind, child support payees will want to file their request as soon as possible to maximize the retroactive payments. If your ex got a raise in January, for example, don’t wait until February to file with the court.
This ‘back support’ is usually aggregated and paid over a 24-month period. Sticking to the previous example, if the modification order increased the support amount by $200 per month, that would be an aggregate of $800 for the four months’ waiting. This $800 would then be distributed over the next 24 monthly payments – that’s about $33 of back pay on top of the (new) regular support amount.
Calculating Your New Child Support Amount
To determine your modified child support payments, the court will use the same Child Support Worksheet format that was used in determining your original child support order.
As you may recall, this multi-factored calculation is complicated to begin with. When it comes to a modification, it may become even more confusing as various factors – apart from income – may also have changed. These may include parenting time, age of children, and even new children with new spouses.
To best calculate your adjusted child support payments, consult a family law attorney. We at Goldman Law are experienced in this area and are prepared to advise you on your specific child support situation.