Denver Child Support Modification Lawyer
Seeking a Colorado Child Support Modification?
The Denver child support modification attorneys at Plog & Stein, P.C. have extensive experience handling modifications of child support and custody. In fact, many of our cases focus on adjustments required to meet constantly changing needs. We understand that many child support orders require recalculation as employment and financial circumstances change and are devoted to helping families relieve some uncertainty by modifying their child support obligations. Our legal team can take care of all the details so you have less to worry about.
Child Support Modification Guidelines
Colorado Revised Statute C.R.S. 14-10-122 allows either parent to request a modification if there has been a “substantial and continuing change in circumstances” since the last order was entered. Remember that the court retains power over child-related financial issues, even after a divorce or custody case has ended until the minor reaches 19 for child support purposes. This means that the court can modify support orders to reflect a “change” in either parent’s financial position or as certain child expenses change. This change must impact the monthly amount of child support due by 10% or more.
Of course, many factors contribute to this 10% variable, including changes in:
- Either parent’s income
- Good faith career change
- Overnight visitation rights
- Changes to overnight visitation
- Loss of employment, disability
- Primary custody, residential status
- Cost of health insurance, daycare, etc.
For example, if a parent making $100,000 per year and paying $500 per month in child support is demoted, resulting in a decreased salary of $50,000 per year, this would change the monthly amount by at least $50, meeting the required standard of 10% or more.
The vast majority of litigation tied into child support modifications relates to income and the basis for which a change is sought. Just because income has changed does not automatically mean a modification of support is appropriate. Courts are interested not only in the change, but the “why.” While just quitting a job is not a valid basis to seek a change in child support, being laid off might be. As each case and set of circumstances is different, we strive to make sure we have a firm grasp of the details in your child support modification matter.
Changes in Custody & Visitation Affecting Child Support
In Colorado, “parental responsibility” means custody and visitation or “parenting time.” Visitation or parenting time may affect child support. In some cases, support decreases incrementally with the non-custodial parent’s number of overnight visits increasing or the closer “parenting time” approaches 50/50. But an “equal” 50/50 time split does not necessarily mean $0 child support. As our child support modification attorneys can explain to Denver residents, visitation is only one factor and income still plays the primary role. It should be noted that parents cannot withhold visitation if the other parent is not paying child support. Custody and visitation are separate issues and time with kids should not be “divided” for money.
Claiming Your Child on Taxes
Our orders let my wife claim the tax exemption for our child each year. Can I modify that?
C.R.S. 14-10-115 sets forth the general statutory provisions regarding child support. This includes lesser issues beyond the establishment of an actual child support figure, such as matters regarding the tax exemption, payment of other expenses related to the child, etc. C.R.S. 14-10-115 indicates that a court shall generally allocate the right to claim the dependency exemption for a child proportionate to income of the parties. Most Denver area courts, with the support of case law behind them, will view the issue of reallocating the right to claim a child for income tax dependency exemption purposes as ripe for modification with a request to modify child support. In the scenario posted in the question set forth above, the wife was likely allocated the exemption each year based on her being vastly, or solely, responsible for the financial support of the child. If circumstances have changed such that husband is now working to the extent that a change in child support is appropriate, he should seek a reallocation of the exemption and the right to claim the child in an income proportionate fashion. Though some courts may allow a de-novo, or new, request to enter orders allocating the dependency exemption, in cases in which such has not been done, most courts will not entertain reallocating the exemption as set forth in prior orders unless the issue of child support modification is also at hand. With a request for modification of child support, an attorney will also inform you of your potential rights regarding modifying other aspects of your child support orders, such as provisions regarding payment of activity costs or uninsured medical expenses. These items are also dealt with on an income proportionate basis and are also ripe for modification with a request related to child support.
Do Not Wait to File a Modification Request!
While it is important to seek help from a Denver child support lawyer first, do not delay too long in filing for modification in hopes that a drop in income or job loss is only “temporary.” A few weeks with no new job should be sufficient to demonstrate a “continuing change,” as required by statute. It is crucial to act quickly so that your child support payment reflects this change. Modifications take time and the changed amount only begins on the date you filed the request, not when your personal circumstances started to change. An experienced Denver child support modification lawyer can advise you of your legal options and ensure timely filing of your modification request.
Contact Plog & Stein P.C. to Discuss Your Case
The lawyers at Plog & Stein P.C. have helped numerous parents battle for entry of appropriate child support orders, whether recipient or payer. To protect yourself and your children during a significant financial change, seek legal advice as soon as possible. Call us at (303) 781-0322 or contact us online to schedule a consultation. Our law firm provides experienced representation at affordable rates.