How Does a Raise Affect Child Support?

Modification of Child Support

How does a raise affect child support payments?

Either you or your ex got a raise.  Congratulations!  Now you’re wondering how that raise will affect your respective child support obligations.

In Colorado, the standard for modifying a child support order is a “substantial and continuing” change in circumstances, which includes a change in income.  Generally, Colorado courts define “substantial” as increasing or decreasing the amount of child support by 10% or more.  That means income will likely have to change by at least that amount.

The effect of the change in child support will depend on which parent saw their income increase.  If the paying parent gets a substantial raise, his or her payment obligation may increase.  If the parent receiving child support gets a substantial raise, the paying parent’s obligation may decrease.

If you want to see how your or your ex’s raise will affect your child support, check out the Divorce Matters Calculator App.

What is the process of getting child support updated?

Changes in child support payments are not automatic.  There are two ways child support obligations may be modified.  The first is through an annual assessment.  In Colorado, parents are supposed to reassess and recalculate their child support obligations “once a year or less” based on changes in income, parenting time, and other factors such as child care expenses. If there have been no changes, the annual reassessment is not required.

If a change has occurred, however, this annual reassessment is mandatory.  Each parent has a duty to disclose any changes in income and circumstances.  This is supposed to make it more difficult for a party to hide information, especially an increase in income, from the other parent.

Second, you may ask the court to modify your child support order. If you both parents do not agree to the modification the court will likely set a hearing on the requested modification.  Finally, the court will issue an order either modifying your existing child support order or denying to do so.

Am I entitled to back pay?

If your request for child support modification is approved, it will generally be retroactive to the date you filed a Motion or Stipulation with the court.  It will not apply prior to the time of filing.  For example, if your ex gets a raise in August, you file a Motion to Modify Child Support in October, and the Motion is approved in December, you are entitled to “back pay” for the time the Motion was pending with the court beginning in October.  You are not entitled to back pay for August and September, before the Motion was filed.  Therefore, it is in your best interest to file your request for child support modification as soon as possible after you learn of your ex’s increase in income.

Back pay is not due all at once.  Instead, it is aggregated and paid over two years.  This means, if you are owed an extra $200 in child support for October and November while your Motion for modification was pending, you won’t receive $200 in December.  Instead, you will receive an extra $8.33 a month for the next 24 months.

Contact us if you have any questions about modifying your existing child support agreement.