Colorado child support: Understanding the options for enforcing orders

When parents in Colorado fall behind on their child support, the state has a number of enforcement options to encourage them to pay.

As any parent in Jefferson County and elsewhere, can attest, raising a child can be an expensive undertaking. Consequently, family law courts frequently order child support payments when people with children divorce, or choose to raise their children apart. Most parents who are ordered to make these payments follow through with their financial obligations to their children. Sometimes, however, parents may not be able to, or choose not to, make their child support payments. When this happens, there are a number of enforcement options that may be used to encourage people to fulfil their court ordered responsibilities. It is important to know that unpaid child support accrues interest at the rate of 12% per month compounded.

Income assignment and intercepts

Perhaps the most common, and effective, method for child support enforcement is an income, or wage, assignment. According to the State of Colorado Judicial Department, these assignments work similarly to traditional wage garnishments. Notices are sent to the employers of those who are ordered to pay child support. These notices direct employers to withhold a specific amount from parents' paychecks for their child support. The money is then forwarded to the Family Support Registry for disbursement.

Furthermore, the state is permitted to intercept certain income when parents fall into arrears on their child support. This includes garnishing federal and state tax refunds, federal administrative payments and unclaimed property. People who are behind on their child support payments may also have lottery and gambling winnings intercepted.

Liens on property and assets

Sometimes, parents may have funds in their banking accounts, but still choose not to make their child support payments. As such, the state's support enforcement unit may place a lien on their financial accounts, effectually freezing them. The funds in such accounts may then be used to cover the amount of any outstanding child support debts.

In addition to placing liens on financial accounts, the child support enforcement unit may also place liens on other assets. The State of Colorado Judicial Department points out that liens may be placed on real estate, as well as vehicles, boats and other personal property. As such, parents may be unable to transfer or sell such property until their child support debts are paid.

License suspensions

According to the Colorado Department of Human Services, people who fall behind on their child support payments may also be subject to license suspensions. The state may suspend the driver's licenses, as well as the professional or occupational licenses, of people who are in arrears. Parents may also have their recreational licenses, such as hunting and fishing licenses, suspended as a result of not paying child support.

Judicial actions

As formal court orders, people must comply with child support orders. Failing to do so could result in judicial actions. As such, family law courts may issue judgements, ordering parents to pay their arrears in full. In other cases, judges may find people who refuse to make their child support payments, or who otherwise have fallen behind, in contempt of court. This could result in jail time, as well as fines on top of the back support that parents must pay.

Seeking legal assistance

When people in Colorado, and elsewhere, do not follow through with their financial responsibilities to their children, it may place an undue burden on the other parents. As such, their children's needs may not be adequately met. Therefore, those who are owed child support may benefit from consulting with an attorney. A lawyer may explain their options, and help guide them through the process of obtaining the support to which their children are due. If you cannot pay your child support then seek out a lawyer for assistance to lower your child support obligation. Do not ignore your obligation as you could face serious consequences for non compliance.