January 2020 | 2020COA16 (Co. Ct. App. 2020)

Marriage of Weekes (Colorado 2020)

Statutes operate prospectively unless the language indicates otherwise. A law is unconstitutionally retrospective if it infringes on a vested right. The father filed to modify his child support based on a physical change of custody that happened without a court order. Current Colorado law limits retroactive modification of child support to the five years prior to the filing of the motion with an exception if the outcome is shown to be unjust and/or inappropriate. If the exception is applied, the date can go back further than five years. The father filed to modify well after the child had emancipated. The court denied the motion to modify as untimely, and the father appealed. The father applied for a modification after the effective date of the new statute, but he argued that the exception should apply to his case and allow for modification back to the date of the change of custody in 2008. The appellate court disagreed. It found the legislature intended for the statute to apply to all motions for modification filed after January 1, 2017 regardless of the date of the custody change. It also found the father didn’t have a vested right in a retroactive modification, so the statute wasn’t unconstitutional. The appellate court did find that the lower court should have held a hearing on the exception to the five- year limit. There were enough disputed facts to warrant further investigation. The case was remanded for further proceeding.

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