A divorce agreement will spell out both parents’ financial obligations. However, the custodial parent will often receive child support payments for the care and well-being of the child.
Either parent can petition family court to change the amount of child support. Here in Colorado, parents wishing to change the child support order can start by contacting Child Support Services in the appropriate county. The thrust of the request is to change the amount to better reflect the circumstances of the family.
Defining change in circumstances
There are many valid reasons for modifying the initial court order:
- Change in income: This can be a substantial raise at a current job or a new job with better pay.
- Loss of job: Many have lost their job due to the economy’s downturn, but they can’t quit their job or intentionally get fired to lessen payments.
- Change in the child’s circumstances: Initial agreements generally have sunset clauses, but other factors may change for the child.
- New medical needs: There could be a severe injury that requires ongoing care not covered by insurance.
- A change in the parenting plan: A child may move in with the other parent, or the arrangement is more balanced than previously.
- A child becomes emancipated: This could occur before the original agreement stipulated.
The courts will request proof of the change in circumstances if it is to modify child support. Like quitting a job, assuming a large amount of debt by buying a home or luxury item is not an acceptable change in circumstances. A parent is still obligated to pay the predetermined amount until the court officially changes the order, regardless of when the change in circumstances occurs.
Proof is the key
Those who wish to modify their divorce agreement often find it helpful to work with a family law attorney. In the case of changing child support payment, there is paperwork to fill out. It will also involve an Income and Expense Affidavit (a sworn financial statement) that outlines all financial details. Based on the change in circumstances, the parent then calculates a new total. An attorney can also be a big help if there is a court hearing, which may follow this application process.