In divorce, issues involving child support and custody are among the most important to be resolved. Child support is intended to provide for children’s basic needs and to allow the children to share in the standard of living of both parents. Though they are often hotly contested, child support mediation can be an effective, less adversarial, and economical way to resolve child support and custody issues.
If you and your former spouse or co-parent have children, it’s important to establish clear financial responsibilities following a divorce. There are several factors that are involved in making child support decisions.
Here’s a refresher on how child support works in Colorado, when you may want to modify a child support agreement, and how mediation can help you resolve your case.
In Colorado, there are two categories of child support expenses: basic and extraordinary. Basic expenses will form the foundation of your child support obligations. These costs provide for the child’s everyday needs, such as:
On the other hand, extraordinary expenses are not part of the child’s everyday needs, but still cost money for the parent. You and your spouse or co-parent will need to discuss these needs and determine what constitutes an extraordinary expense.
Common examples include:
Generally, you can modify a child support agreement in Colorado when one parent can show a substantial change in financial circumstances.
Examples may include:
Your marital settlement agreement may set certain requirements for modification. For example, you may be required to mediate with your spouse before taking your case to the courtroom. There may be parts of your marital settlement agreement that prevent modification unless certain criteria are met.
For a change in child support to be valid, you will need to undergo a formal legal process. A verbal or even written agreement between the parents wouldn’t quality. You’ll need to either ask the court to modify the agreement or agree to the terms via mediation.
To reach a child support agreement, you can pursue litigation in Colorado family court, or you can engage in mediation, an alternative dispute resolution process. We encourage you to choose mediation when making child support decisions.
If you pursue litigation, the court will determine how much child support you will need to pay. It will use the Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations to determine the costs of the basic needs. You and your spouse will still be responsible for identifying extraordinary costs.
Mediation provides you with more control when determining child support. You will be guided by a neutral, trained mediator to create an agreement that both complies with Colorado law and works for the best interests of your children.
Ordinarily, we suggest you download and review our Adobe-formatted document:
This document requires you to have Adobe’s widely used and free software, Adobe Acrobat Reader. This tool will direct you in gathering essential information to discuss and resolve most relevant financial issues.
It is also helpful to have completed, or revised and updated the Colorado divorce financial form now known as the Sworn Financial Statement.
A table in the tools and forms (divorce forms) section of our website provides three versions of that form and its single page attachment (the Sworn Financial Schedules), also including an Adobe-formatted one. The “auto-calculating” Word version conveniently calculates subtotals and totals of relevant sections of the form (for example, total income, total deductions, total expenses, shortfall or excess).
In the past we recommended use of a popular, copyrighted special “short form” of Financial Affidavit for Colorado child support modification cases (offered by Bradford Publishing Company, a Colorado legal publisher offering divorce forms for electronic download). With the 2006 changes to Colorado divorce law, a Colorado Supreme Court Order directs the uniform use of the new Sworn Financial Statement in all family law cases, including those involving modification of spousal maintenance and child support orders. As a result of 2006 changes in Colorado law, the special “short form” has been discontinued.
These are simply tools to assist in our mediation, and you should not feel like you must have discussed or resolved any of these issues before we meet. Most couples need some help in understanding the range of choices they have and that is part of our job as a mediator. Nonetheless, we provide these to you to give you some direction of what information may be useful in streamlining your work together.
(Alternatively, if you feel you have researched and have all documents likely to be helpful, available and organized, these may not be of interest to you.)
This will confirm that, absent any other agreement, you will each be responsible for paying at the end of the session, one-half of our hourly fees, and that we ordinarily anticipate a two-hour first session. Our Denver child support attorneys do accept MasterCard and Visa, if that is helpful.
As is the policy of all mediators, we cannot assist you in an agreement on how you will share fees, and you must have this issue decided in advance of beginning your work with us.
On occasion, of course, the presence of third persons (including other family members) is helpful and appropriate in mediation. In many cases, however, the presence of others hinders the mediation process. Unless arrangements have been considered and agreed to in advance by both parties and the mediator, third persons and children should not accompany you to your mediation session.
We genuinely look forward to assisting you. Please call or write if you have any questions or concerns. We’d appreciate a confirmation that you have received our email confirming your appointment and have accessed this page of resource materials.
Mediation can provide several benefits when modifying a child support agreement. When you need help coming to a fair settlement, Divorce Resolutions, LLC can help. Contact us today by filling out the form below or calling us at (303) 650-1750.
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