What Happens If Your Child Support Is Not Paid in Colorado?

Price Family Law
Denver Family Law Attorney

Parents Are Financially Responsible for Supporting Their Children

Sometimes Parents Don’t Live Up to Their Responsibilities

Raising a child is one of life’s greatest joys — and also one of its biggest expenses. Costs of housing, food, and clothing are only the tip of the iceberg.  Medical and dental expenses, education, and activities all add up. The resulting numbers are staggering.

When two parents live together with their children, they share these costs. In many cases, both are employed and their combined income helps pay for their children’s expenses. In other cases, one parent may work outside the home, while the other assumes care for the household and child, thus making a significant contribution to the costs the family incurs. Both parents are responsible and both provide support.

Over time, a significant percentage of relationships fail, and separated and divorced parents must manage future physical and financial care. 

Child support is the amount of money one parent pays the other (in the case of divorce or separation) to help care for their child or children. In Colorado, this contribution is specific to each family and is mandated by the court. It is reasonable that the parent receiving the support expects it to be paid in a timely fashion and in full.  Sadly, this does not always occur, and that parent is often left struggling and the children suffer.

Does this situation sound familiar? If so, the child support attorneys at Price Family Law can help determine how you should proceed. Reach out to them today at 720-615-1750 to schedule a free consultation during which they can learn about your specific situation.

Understanding Colorado Child Support

How Child Support Is Calculated

Child support is the payment one parent makes to the other in order to provide for their minor children. Regardless of where your child lives, they deserve to be cared for and supported appropriately.

In Colorado, child support consists of both basic and extraordinary expenses. As you would expect, basic expenses include such costs as housing, food, clothing, and medical care. Extraordinary expenses are incurred periodically and can include school supplies, field trips, and after-school activities, to name just a few.

The court’s goal, when determining child support, is to try to maintain the lifestyle the child had prior to the divorce.  Normalcy is calming and keeping things as similar as possible is definitely in the best interests of the child, especially during a divorce, which can be difficult for a child to handle.

The state’s child support guidelines are the starting point on which final agreements are based. Consulting with a family support lawyer can be crucial, as they can navigate through the intricacies of the system. The courts will consider a host of factors, including income, expenses, visitation schedules, and additional alimony or child support being paid. Determining child support is often a complicated process as family financial situations are not always black and white. The process and resulting support are unique and personal to each family.

What Happens If Child Support Is Not Paid in Colorado?

Addressing the Issue Appropriately

Paying child support in full and on time is a serious responsibility. The impact of nonpayment is truly unacceptable. After all, couples divorce from each other, not from their children. As a parent, you are always responsible for their well-being.

If your spouse has not paid their child support, you do have options under the law. Individuals who do not pay their child support, as ordered, can face a host of consequences. If you are a parent who is not receiving the support as ordered, a child custody lawyer can help you move forward.

Actions that can be taken against a non-paying parent include:

  • Being held in contempt of court (punishable by fines or jail time)
  • Wage garnishment
  • Tax refunds and lottery winnings interception (if applicable)
  • Asset liens (personal property, vehicles, and real estate holdings)
  • Reporting to credit agencies
  • Passport application denial
  • Professional license suspension
  • Driver’s license suspension.

Not paying child support is a criminal offense. Violators can be charged with either a felony or misdemeanor based on the amount of money owed and how many payments were missed.

Specific Questions Regarding Unpaid Child Support

How Does Back Child Support Work in Colorado?

This often-asked question is important. As a parent, if you have not received appropriate support, you would, of course, want to know how you can be reimbursed for the money owed to you. In all likelihood, you have absorbed the financial burden caused by your ex’s nonpayment.

Assuming your child support was part of a court order, you can file a motion for contempt. While you do have the option to do this yourself (forms are available on the State of Colorado website), it may be beneficial to engage a child support attorney to manage the process on your behalf. Child support law is complicated, and the process can become emotional. The assistance of professionals who can leverage their experience and handle the process calmly may be better for you and your children.

How Far Back Does Child Support Go in Colorado?

If you have been responsible for all the expenses relating to caring for your child, it is not surprising that you are concerned with how much of the unpaid support you would be able to recover and when you would need to file.

In most cases, you can file for back support at any point in time.  In fact, if your ex has been delinquent, payments are subject to 12% interest. While child support payments can be modified if a change in circumstance occurs, missed payments cannot be altered retroactively; the original missed payment remains due in full.

Additionally, in most cases (unless the child is financially independent or enrolled in the military), support in Colorado can be mandated until age nineteen. However, if the child has special needs or a disability, support may be mandated for a longer time. Finally, in some cases,  if your child is under the age of 21 and still enrolled in high school, support can still be required.

Don’t Handle Unpaid Child Support Alone

The Child Support Attorneys at Price Family Law Can Make a Difference

When the well-being of your children is at stake, you must do everything you can to protect them. Missed child support payments are serious; the impact can negatively impact your child.  Engaging the assistance of seasoned child support attorneys is wise. These professionals can leverage their knowledge and understanding and help you to recover the funds to which your child is entitled. In cases where the child’s living arrangements are also in question, consulting with a custody rights lawyer can be equally important to ensure the best possible living situation for your child.

At Price Family Law, our team is well-versed in Colorado child support law and has a breadth of experience helping parents whose ex-spouses have abandoned their financial responsibilities.  We appreciate that emotions run high in situations like this. By focusing on the facts and the law, we can help maintain a sense of calm and resolve issues effectively.

Don’t wait! You are entitled to receive your child support in full and on-time. Our child support lawyers are ready to go to work for you immediately.  We pay close attention to the details and work tirelessly in pursuit of justice on behalf of you and your children. The bottom line is actually quite simple:  There is no excuse for not providing for one’s children; the suffering that results is inexcusable.

Contact us today at (512) 732-2727 to discuss your case and learn how we can help you get the resolution you deserve.

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    Attorney Trista Price

    Trista McElhaney Price is a founding partner at Price Family Law, LLC. She specializes in high-asset divorce cases and legal matters involving complex business and financial issues as well as complex custody matters involving domestic violence, substance abuse issues, and mental health issues. Read Full Bio.