Options to collect unpaid child support
April 1, 2009
Parents entitled to child support payments under a judges order should be aware of their options in the event that the payments arent made. Income Assignment. Child support orders are commonly enforced through income assignment whereby the owing parents employer or other source of income (including, for example, a trust, workers compensation insurance company, or unemployment insurance company) is required to make direct payments to the recipient parent. In most cases, the income assignment is commenced by delivering a notice to the employer that contains certain information required by statute. Enforcement of Order as Judgment. A Colorado child support payment that is not paid when due automatically becomes a judgment enforceable against the owing parents assets. The recipient parent can then use common creditor remedies to enforce the judgment such as garnishment of wages and bank accounts, or attachment to the owing parents other assets. The judgment accrues interest at the rate of 12 percent compounded monthly. Contempt of Court Proceeding. A Colorado court has the power to rule that a parent who doesnt meet a child support obligation is in contempt of court, in which case the court can sentence the owing parent to jail or impose other sanctions to compel payment. The judge can also award attorney fees and costs to the recipient parent. Rule 69 Proceeding. A recipient parent has the power to force the owing parent to answer questions under oath about assets, either in person or in writing. If the owing parent fails to appear as ordered or to answer the written questions within the required time, he or she may be found in contempt of court and an arrest warrant may be issued. These remedies may be pursued by a recipient parent with or without the assistance of an attorney. In addition, state child support enforcement agencies have further remedies at their disposal. The state child support enforcement website is https://childsupport.state.co.us. Agencies are particularly helpful when the recipient parent doesnt know the owing parents location or assets. Parents should recognize, however, that agencies have a limited scope of involvement in the case and have a heavy caseload, which means that they may not be as responsive or timely as the recipient parent would like. The agencies additional remedies include the following: Administrative Liens. Agencies may place liens on the owing parents real or personal property other than wages and motor vehicles. Credit and Licensing Reporting. Agencies may report delinquent child support to consumer credit agencies, which can inhibit the owing parents ability to obtain credit. Similarly, a report can be made to various licensing authorities, who may then refuse to issue professional or recreational licenses or may take action against existing license holders. Intercepting Payments. Agencies have the power to intercept many forms of payment to the owing parent to satisfy delinquent child support obligations, including federal and state tax refunds, state vendor payments, certain federal retirement payments, unemployment benefits, and state lottery winnings. New Hire Reporting. Employers report certain information about new hires to a central state database using tax forms within twenty calendar days of the hiring date. This database is cross-referenced to determine if the new hire is delinquent in child support payments. The state transmits the data to a national database for the same purpose. Passport Denial. A person who is delinquent in paying child support in excess of $5,000 can be denied renewal of a passport. There are, however, no provisions for revocation or restriction of a current passport. There are many options available to enforce delinquent child support payments. Parents who are entitled to receive child support should consider these options carefully in the best interests of the children. This article is intended as a general overview; consult a family law attorney for more details.Noah Klug is an attorney with Bauer & Burns, P.C. in Breckenridge. He may be reached at 970-453-2734 or Noah@BreckenridgeLawyer.com. Joanne Sprouse at Summit County Social Services kindly assisted with this article.