How to Enforce Child Support Orders in Colorado

May 30, 2024

Child support is a financial lifeline for children, ensuring they have the resources they need to thrive. In Colorado, frustration and uncertainty can set in when the paying parent fails to meet their child support obligations. Here's a comprehensive guide to enforcing child support orders in Colorado, empowering you to take action and secure the financial support your children deserve. Child support payments paper with money on top of it. A pen, calculator, a book and glasses on a desk.

1. Contact the Colorado Child Support Services (CSS) Program:

The Colorado Child Support Services (CSS) Program is a good starting point. This state agency acts as a valuable resource, offering:

  • Payment Tracking: Uncertainty about incoming payments can be a source of stress. The CSS program takes the guesswork out of the equation. Their system meticulously tracks all incoming child support payments, ensuring you receive a clear and detailed record of each deposit. This lets you quickly identify any delinquencies and take timely action if payments are missed.
  • Enforcement Actions: When payments stop coming in, the CSS program empowers you to take action. They can initiate enforcement actions to collect unpaid child support on your behalf.
  • Guidance and Support: Navigating the legalities of child support enforcement can be overwhelming. The CSS program understands these challenges and offers many resources to guide you through the process. They provide comprehensive information on your rights and options, answer your questions, and can connect you with additional support services if needed. With the CSS program by your side, you don't have to face enforcement alone.

Finding Your Local CSS Office:

Find your local county child support office through the Colorado Office of Economic Security's website here:

2. Utilizing Administrative Tools:

The CSS program has a robust toolbox for collecting unpaid child support through administrative actions. These tools include:

  • Income Withholding: This powerful method directs the paying parent's employer to deduct a predetermined amount from their paycheck and forward it directly to the child support agency.
  • License Suspensions and Denials: Delinquent payments can lead to the suspension or denial of various licenses, including driver's licenses, professional licenses, and even hunting or fishing licenses.
  • Credit Bureau Reporting: Unpaid child support can be reported to credit bureaus, potentially impacting the paying parent's credit score. This serves as a significant incentive for compliance.
  • Federal and State Tax Intercepts: Outstanding child support can be intercepted from federal and state tax refunds, ensuring these funds are used to support your children.

3. Taking Legal Action Through the Court:

If administrative actions prove unsuccessful, the CSS program or you, the receiving parent, can file a motion for contempt in court. This legal action seeks to hold the paying parent accountable for their non-compliance. There are two types of contempt:

  • Remedial Contempt: This court order has a clear goal: recouping the outstanding child support. The court may impose jail time, but with a specific condition – the paying parent is released once a designated portion or all of the arrears are paid. This creates a strong incentive to settle the debt quickly.
  • Punitive Contempt: Here, the focus shifts to punishing the paying parent for intentionally disregarding the court order. The court has the authority to impose various penalties beyond jail time. These might include fines, community service, or even suspended licenses. Punitive contempt clearly conveys that non-compliance with child support obligations will have serious consequences.

The court can also take other measures, such as ordering the paying parent to cover attorney fees incurred during the enforcement process.

4. Considering a Private Attorney:

While the CSS program provides valuable assistance, involving a private attorney specializing in family law can be beneficial in complex cases. This is especially true when significant arrears have accumulated or the situation requires a more aggressive approach.

An experienced family law attorney can offer a multitude of benefits, including:

  • Legal Expertise: A lawyer can navigate the complexities of the legal system, ensuring all procedures and filings are completed accurately and efficiently.
  • Court Representation: They can effectively represent you in court hearings for motions for contempt or other legal actions related to child support enforcement.
  • Exploring Additional Remedies: An attorney can investigate and pursue additional legal options that might be available in your specific case.

The Unrelenting Pursuit of Unpaid Child Support

Unpaid child support isn't a disappearing act. It casts a long shadow, accruing interest over time. This means the financial burden on the paying parent grows with each missed payment. The state of Colorado takes child support enforcement seriously and possesses the legal muscle to pursue these debts relentlessly.

Here's what that means for you:

  • Accumulating Debt: Each missed payment adds interest to the outstanding balance, compounding over time. Imagine a snowball rolling downhill – that's what happens to unpaid child support. The longer it goes unaddressed, the larger the debt becomes.  This can create a significant financial strain for the paying parent in the future.
  • Persistent Enforcement: The state won't let the issue rest. Colorado has a robust system for collecting unpaid child support, utilizing various tools like income withholding and tax intercepts.
  • No Statute of Limitations: Unlike some debts, unpaid child support has no statute of limitations. This means the state can continue enforcement efforts indefinitely until they settle the debt.

This ongoing financial pressure is a powerful incentive for the paying parent to fulfill their obligation. Ultimately, consistent enforcement ensures your children receive the financial support they are entitled to.

Taking Action with Johnson Law Group:

If you're facing the challenge of enforcing a child support order in Colorado, Johnson Law Group can help. Our experienced family law attorneys have the knowledge and experience to navigate child support enforcement and are dedicated to protecting your children's rights. We offer a FREE consultation to discuss your specific situation and develop a strategic plan to secure the financial support your children deserve. Call us at 720-445-4444 today to get started.

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Written by Family Law Attorney Myles S. Johnson
Divorce doesn’t have to be dramatic. For the litigants, losing your spouse is significant enough. But you can choose the way it affects your daily life. The only guarantee I can give is that the feeling that you have right now will not be the feeling you end with. This is a season in your life, and it must be approached that way.
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