Child support orders are legally binding, and Colorado courts take violations of these orders very seriously. If you are a parent who has not been receiving child support from your ex-spouse, the best option is often pursuing enforcement action through the family courts. Fortunately, there are various ways to collect outstanding payments from delinquent parents.
In Colorado, one of the most common ways to enforce a child support order is by filing a motion for contempt. Your ex-spouse will be given the opportunity to resolve the issue of non-payment. If, however, he or she still refuses to pay, then the court will decide on an appropriate punishment.
When it comes to child support, the two kinds of contempt are remedial and punitive. Filing a motion for remedial contempt means requesting the judge to place your ex-spouse behind bars until some or all of the overdue child support is paid. You will not have to establish that the other parent refused to pay child support intentionally, but will need to show that child support has not been paid. Consulting an attorney knowledgeable in child support orders is a wise decision.
Filing a motion for punitive contempt, on the other hand, means requesting the court to penalize the other parent for intentionally refusing to pay child support. You may ask the judge to impose a fine or sentence the other parent to jail time, regardless of whether the overdue child support is paid. Unlike remedial contempt, you will need to establish, beyond reasonable doubt, that the other parent refused to pay child support even if he or she had the ability to do so.
You may ask for your ex-spouse to be held in both remedial and punitive contempt in the same motion, as well as request the court to order him or her to pay for your attorney’s fees and other costs incurred when having the child support order enforced.
You may opt to request contempt findings against a delinquent ex-spouse by filing a motion for contempt on your own, by hiring an attorney to file the motion on your behalf, or by applying for enforcement services through the CSEU or Colorado Child Support Enforcement Unit.
There are numerous additional orders a judge may issue to collect payment as soon as a delinquent parent is held in contempt of a child support order. Among its enforcement remedies include:
- Garnishing the bank accounts of the non-paying parent
- Garnishing the earnings of the non-paying parent
- Placing liens on the real property or private property of the non-paying parent
The court may also instruct the CSEU to seize or intercept a delinquent parent’s earnings from sources such as gambling or lottery winnings, IRS income tax refunds, unemployment benefits, and income earned from the state of Colorado.
Other administrative remedies used in Colorado for enforcing child support include:
- Suspension of driver’s licenses
- Suspension of professional licenses
- Denial of passports
- Reporting of nonpayment to credit reporting agencies
For the more serious cases, failure to pay child support can lead to criminal charges that may possibly be filed at the federal level. The delinquent parent may be sent to jail for an extended period of time.