ENFORCING A COLORADO CHILD SUPPORT ORDER

June 16, 2011

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As a Denver area family law attorney, almost every divorce (with children) or custody case I have handled includes the issue of child support. As indicated in prior blog posts, child support is the statutorily dictated amount that the court deems appropriate for one parent to pay the other for support of a child. Also, as indicated previously, child support law generally derives from statutory section C.R.S. 14-10-115.

While surfing the internet this evening, I came across an article involving a former NBA player with multiple kids who was grossly behind on his child support. After reading, I pondered whether the mothers of the children were aware of their options? Though the average person isn't owed $100,000, his or her child support still matters.

Once orders are entered, the recipient of child support is left with the expectation, and hope, that he or she will get his or her child support. When formulating a child support agreement, it is important to make sure that specifics are included. This will include specifics as to when each payment is due (a specific due date) and how the support will be specifically paid. Child support will generally be paid through one of 3 mechanisms:

1. Paid directly to the recipient by the paying party; or
2. Paid through an income assignment (sometimes referred to as a garnishment or wage assignment); or
3. Paid to the Family Support Registry, whether directly or through an income assignment.

Again, specifics as to pay date(s) and mechanism are important for purposes of preventing confusion or argument down the road. No matter how much specificity is put into an order, unfortunately problems can arise down the road, meaning people don't always pay. Fortunately, Colorado statute sets forth various remedies an attorney can pursue for collecting back child support:

1. Issuance of an income assignment, if one was not previously ordered, is one way to go. A blank objection form will need to be provided with it. This alone may not resolve the issue of back support owed, but if the payor is employed it will help ensure future payments. See 14-14-111.5

2. The filing of a verified entry of support judgment and affidavit of arrears is another remedy. Each child support payment not paid becomes a judgment, as a matter of law. No motion needs to be filed. Just filing the proper papers leads to enforceable judgment. Interest accrues on each unpaid payment at the rate of 12% per year, compounded monthly. Once judgement enters, a support garnishment (different from an income assignment) can be filed against the payor's wages to collect additional funds beyond the current child support amount. The judgment can also be used to lien property or seize funds in certain assets such as bank accounts. See 14-14-105


3. Collection of child support arrears can also be sought through contempt of court proceedings. With the contempt, the delinquent payor can be subject to a fine or jail, as well as remedial orders regarding the back support and, potentially attorney fees. See C.R.C.P. Rule 107.

4. If the obligor is not paying his or her child support and lives out of state, one can also get the child support aspects of a Colorado case transferred to the state in which he or she resides for enforcement purposes. Sometimes this becomes necessary, as it may be difficult to get at someone in a wholly different jurisdiction. See C.R.S. Title 15, Article 5

5. One can also seek the assistance of the county Child Support Enforcement Unit (CSEU) in the county in which you reside. The CSEU can take any of the steps stated above, though they may require a person to give up some discretion in terms of setting repayment terms. The CSEU is generally free, absent a nominal initial fee in some counties. Their reach is vast. They can take professional and driver's licenses, seize income tax refunds, and track down delinquent payors through department of labor records. An attorney can remain on for further assistance, even if the Child Support Enforcement Unit is involved.

The Plog & Stein lawyers handle all aspects of child support, from getting it established to helping you collect that which is owed to you. Child support is for the children. Kids need both love and financial support. Though the law can't order love, it can provide ways to collect your back child support.