The Colorado family courts calculate child support based on both parents’ incomes, the child custody agreement, costs of childcare, and many other factors. Once the courts issue a support agreement, the paying parent must keep up with support payments to the recipient, or else face consequences, such as contempt of court. The only situation in which a parent may stop or alter a child support arrangement is with an official modification request. This may be necessary if the paying parent loses his or her job.
Obtaining a Modification from the Colorado Courts
A child support order during a divorce case is for the good of the child. The courts will issue child support orders to prevent children from suffering any unfair changes to quality of life because of their parents’ divorces. The courts will not change or end a support order easily. They must have proof that the parent cannot afford to make the payment, through official legal processes. It is not enough to report to the Child Support Division that you have lost your job. Instead, you must file a motion and receive an order of modification from a judge.
If you lose your job, receive a demotion, or otherwise experience drastic change in income while you have a child support order, the courts may modify your agreement. The courts may accept a motion to lower child support payment amounts, or to cancel the agreement completely. However, to receive this modification, you must be able to prove you are legitimately unable to make the payment. Loss of a job may be a legitimate reason to request a support order modification in some circumstances.
Involuntary vs. Voluntary Loss of Job
The courts draw an important distinction between voluntary and involuntary loss of job. If a parent voluntarily quits his or her job in an effort to avoid paying child support, the courts will not let that parent get away with not paying. Instead, the courts will use imputed income to calculate child support payments. Imputed income is the amount the parent could reasonably earn if he or she had a full-time job. The courts may also use imputed income to calculate child support if a parent has the ability to work, but chooses not to, to avoid paying child support.
Involuntary loss of a job due to an injury, disability, company layoffs, or termination, however, could result in a successful modification request. You will need evidence of the involuntary loss of job to prove your case, as well as proof that you engaged in diligent efforts to find another job, to no avail. Copies of job applications and records of interviews may suffice as evidence of loss of income. If a judge reviews your case and decides your situation warrants a child support order modification, you may receive a temporary or permanent change.
What to Do After Losing Your Job
If you lost your job and cannot afford to make your child support payments, file an official motion for modification. Do not work things out with only your spouse. An off-record agreement could come back to work against you, and you may end up owing your spouse missed payments plus interest and penalties. Do not ignore the problem and assume it is okay to miss a few payments in-between jobs. The courts may find you in contempt and may even arrest you for being in arrears of your payments.
Instead, file for a modification of child support at your local Colorado family court. While your paperwork goes through and a judge reviews your case, do not stop searching for another job. Continue seeking employment so the courts know you are putting forth a reasonable effort. Take your financial obligation seriously and hire a child support attorney in Fort Collins if you need help with your modification request.