If you have a child support order, you may have a mandatory obligation to disclose updated financial information to your ex-spouse on an annual basis. The Colorado child support statute was recently modified to provide for a mandatory “annual exchange of information” to determine whether child support needs to be updated or modified.
I have a child support order. How do I know if I have to exchange information?
Anytime there has been a change that could affect the amount of child support, that parent has a duty to disclose to the other parent any information relating to that change.
What kind of change could affect child support?
Child support is calculated using a formula that considers the parents’ income and expenses for the children including health insurance and daycare costs. The formula also takes into account how much time the children spend with each parent.
For example, if a parent gets a raise at work, changes child care providers, or loses health insurance coverage for the children, that information must be provided to the other parent to determine whether the support amount needs to be modified.
Yes, this means it will be much harder for both parents to “hide” information from the other parent—particularly about any increase in income that may increase child support.
How often does information need to be exchanged?
The information needs to be exchanged once a year or less often. For example, if no change has occurred since the previous child support order, the mandatory annual exchange provision is not triggered.
The statute does, however, provide the opportunity for the parent who does not exercise majority time with the children to request an annual update of financial information including information on the actual expenses incurred relating to the children from the other parent. This request is subject to court approval (i.e. not automatic) and will not be ordered if the requesting party has failed to exercise parenting time, when child support payments are in arrears, or when there is documented evidence of domestic violence, child abuse or violation of a protection order by the requesting party.
What are the benefits of the annual exchange provision?
Prior to the changes in the statute, parents would have to mutually agree to exchange information or be forced to file a formal motion with the court to trigger an exchange of current financial information. The new information exchange provision could save the parents the time and money of litigating the issue.
The existence of the annual exchange of information provision promotes transparency and functions to hold both parents accountable for necessary adjustments to the court-ordered child support obligation.
Can I still file a Motion to Modify Child Support?
While the information exchange may streamline getting important information to both parents, it does not change a parent’s right to file for a modification of child support when there have been substantial and continuing changes that justify a modification. If the parties cannot agree to the modification, either parent can still seek resolution through the courts.
Please contact your attorney to understand your specific rights under the revised child support statute.
Eliza Steinberg’s practice is focused exclusively on family law related matters including divorce, allocation of parental rights, post-decree disputes, and child support matters. Eliza has presented on litigation case management techniques and is a co-author of the Colorado Bar Association’s Practitioner’s Guide to Domestic Relations Law chapter on trusts.