In Colorado, both parents must contribute to child support, though the amount paid and who pays it is based on the parents’ income and time spent with the child. The parent that cares for the children less than 50% of the time usually must pay child support to the other parent for the benefit of the children. Unfortunately, there are many cases when a parent ordered to pay child support fails to comply, leaving the burden of enforcing the child support order to the other parent. This can lead to bitterness and hostility between parents who may have other issues between them as well. Like other court orders, child support orders can be enforced.
Child support enforcement remedies include court actions and administrative actions, but you can only enforce a child support agreement that is part of a court order. For example, if you have informally separated from your spouse and verbally agreed that he will pay financial support to the children, you cannot enforce that. Assuming that you have a court order, the most common enforcement method is probably filing a motion for contempt with the court that ordered your ex-spouse to pay child support.
Contempt can be punitive or remedial. Punitive contempt asks the judge to sentence the other parent to jail or impose a fine regardless of whether the parent catches up on overdue payments. You will have to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the other parent could have paid child support, but refused to do so, and so this is best reserved for truly egregious cases. When you ask for remedial contempt, you ask the judge to place the parent in jail unless he or she pays some or all of the child support that’s owed. This is a way of forcing the other parent to pay.
If a parent is held in contempt and still refuses to pay, you may ask the court to do other things to collect payment, such as garnishing your former spouse’s wages or assets (such as bank accounts), placing a lien on real property or personal property or forcing the parent to sell property in some cases. In other instances, the court will order interception of earnings where, for example, the nonpaying spouse earns income through the state of Colorado, or earns unemployment benefits. Interception of income tax refunds is also possible.
Other penalties include suspension of professional or occupational licenses. For example, a parent that is an attorney who is six months behind and paying less than 50% of the child support amount may have his or her license suspended until the payment is made. A parent’s failure to pay child support can also be reported to credit agencies, to lower his or her credit scores.
If a parent is at least 30 days behind in payments, this can be reported to the Division of Motor Vehicles. The DMV can suspend the license where the parent does not make the payment or negotiate a payment plan.
C.R.S. 26-13-101 is the Colorado Child Enforcement Act. It authorizes the Colorado Child Support Services Program to ensure all children receive financial and medical support from both parents by locating them, establishing their obligations and enforcing obligations. Those that cannot afford an attorney may be able to pay a fee to apply for public assistance.
At Plog & Stein, our experienced Colorado child support attorneys can represent you through the process of securing an appropriate child support order and assist you with enforcement options. If you need to obtain a modification of your child support order to avoid adverse consequences, we can help you try to obtain one from the court. To schedule a confidential consultation with a knowledgeable and skilled advocate, contact us today through our website or at 303-781-0322.
More Blog Posts:
What Constitutes Marital Property in Colorado? Denver Divorce Attorney Blog, June 23, 2014
Division of Property During Divorce in Colorado, Denver Divorce Attorney Blog, July 29, 2013
Divorce in Denver: Dividing Retirement Plans, Denver Divorce Attorney Blog, August 6, 2011