Colorado judges take child support, or the money one parent pays the other to help cover the costs of raising a child, very seriously. Child support enforcement may be necessary when one parent is not paying the full amount of child support or not paying any money at all. It can also become an issue when you have the best of intentions but are overdue or falling behind on payments.
In the legal world, enforcement does not mean the police are going to break down someone's door, but it should be taken seriously. When you are requesting enforcement of a legal order, or are served with an enforcement order, take the time to understand the child support enforcement process.
Colorado’s Child Support Enforcement Laws
Colorado law is clear on the penalties and actions to take if one or both parties does not follow a child support order. The table below outlines the relevant laws and what you can expect in a child support enforcement case:
The Enforcement Process
Not paying child support will start a legal enforcement process that Child Support Services of Colorado will follow. They can act with or without court involvement. Actions may include:
- Child Support Services will make a judgment on the case to determine how you pay back the money;
- Contempt of court charges may be filed if you resist the process (Section 14-14-110);
- The courts can claim up to 65 percent of your paycheck, tax returns, unemployment, workers’ compensation, or lottery winnings to cover your child support debt;
- A lien, or legal hold, can be placed on your home, car, or personal property;
- Local debt collectors and credit bureaus will be notified of your debt; and
- You can be arrested in any state and brought to Colorado court.
Penalties for Contempt of Court Charges
The court decides your penalties for not paying child support. Penalties can vary depending on the judge's view of the amount unpaid, how overdue the payment is, and other factors. You could be facing:
- Jail time;
- Denial of passport applications;
- Driver’s license suspensions;
- Recreational and professional license suspensions;
- Federal charges if you leave the state; or
- Federal charges if the amount owed is significant.
If you are under contempt of court, the police have the right to arrest you if they pull you over or interact with you.
Note: State laws are always subject to change through the passage of new legislation, rulings in the higher courts (including federal decisions), ballot initiatives, and other means. While we strive to provide the most current information available, please consult an attorney or conduct your own legal research to verify the state law(s) you are researching.
When You Cannot Pay Child Support
The Colorado courts are reasonable, and everyone wants to find a fair solution to child support issues. If you cannot pay the amount ordered due to a change in your job, income, or living situation, you may want to work with an attorney proactively. The courts are available to help you find a new payment amount. Courts may also modify child support for medical issues and unexpected costs that require both parents’ contributions.
Colorado Child Support Process: Related Resources
Get Help for Child Support Enforcement Issues
Whether you are requesting child support enforcement or are being questioned about your support payments, the situation can feel scary. You may worry you won't have enough money for your child's needs, or that you won't have enough money left over to support your own needs. An attorney experienced in child custody cases knows how to help your situation. They are there to listen and recommend the best path forward. Do not hesitate to bring your concerns up and work with an attorney to find a support solution that works for both parents.