Child support is very complicated, even though it is incredibly important. In Colorado, the Colorado Division of Child Support Services assists single parents in figuring out the basics of child support, such as how to get it and how to stop it.
Who Needs to Pay Child Support?
Courts consider several factors in deciding who is eligible to receive child support, and then determine how much is owed by using a mathematical formula referred to as Child Support Guidelines. The guidelines do not typically apply to parents with very low or very high incomes because such a calculation may inaccurately reflect who would otherwise shoulder the financial burden of raising the child. It is important for the court to base each parent’s level of financial obligation on how much they are capable of paying and how much they would have provided if they were still with the other parent. However, since the parent with whom the child lives is usually the parent who spends the most money on the child’s daily living expenses, thereby exceeding their financial obligation to the child, the non-custodial parent is usually the parent ordered to pay child support.
How Can I Petition for Child Support?
To obtain child support in Colorado, you will need to petition the court for a child support order. Instructions, forms, and child support worksheets to help you petition for can be found through the Colorado Judicial Branch website. Any parent petitioning for child support will need to provide as much useful information to the court as possible, including:
- Basic information about the non-petitioning parent, such as their name and current address
- The name, address, and social security number of petitioning parent
- The name and address of current or recent employer of each parent
- Information about income and assets of both parents
- The birth certificate of the child for whom support is sought
- A divorce decree or separation agreement, if applicable
- Records of any child support received previously
- Information about the child’s living expenses, especially health care, daycare, or other special needs
- Any documentation that may help prove paternity if it is contested
What If I Refuse to Pay Child Support?
Failure to pay court-ordered child support comes with several potential consequences in Colorado, including reporting failure to pay to credit agencies, suspension of licenses, liens on personal property, and wage garnishment. Additionally, if you do not make child support payments, the court may order payment for retroactive child support.
What Recourse Can the Other Parent Have If I Fail to Pay Support?
If a noncustodial parent refuses to pay child support, then the custodial parent who is entitled to child support can contact the Child Support Enforcement Unit (CSEU). Upon a custodial parent’s request, the CSEU will pursue the parent obligated to pay and will assist in enforcing payment. The CSEU has additional enforcement measures beyond what is usually available to private attorneys. For example, if you fail to pay court-ordered child support, the CSEU may revoke your driver’s license or even any professional occupational licenses. However, the downside to using CSEU instead of a private family lawyer is that it can take longer to obtain results.
How Can I Stop Paying Child Support?
Child support payments typically last until the child turns 19, or until the month following graduation from high school, whichever comes later. The obligation to make payments may continue for a longer period if the child suffers a disability and cannot become independent or self-sufficient.
Changes can be made to child support obligations, however, if your circumstances change. To prove enough of a change in circumstances to warrant a modified child support order in Colorado, recalculation of new income and obligations must show at least a 10% change. Even if your financial situation has changed this much, do not withhold child support on your own. You must first seek court approval of any changes or obtain an order ending child support obligations. Withholding or failure to pay child support can lead to jail time, so it is important to follow the law and petition the court for lower payments or an end to your child support obligation rather than simply stopping payment of child support.
Where Can I Find the Right Lawyer?
There are serious consequences for failing to comply with child support orders, and the laws regarding visitation and child support payments can be complicated and confusing. If you have any questions regarding your rights, consult with a Colorado child support lawyer to discuss how to proceed and to help you navigate through any problems that arise.