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What is Child Support and When does it Occur in Colorado?

Regardless of the state of a marriage or union, children deserve proper care and support from their parents. For this reason, in Colorado, child support is intended to cover the cost of raising children until their emancipation from their parents. Because this support is predominantly financial in nature, they are usually negotiated along with the divorce settlements.

The state considers it to be the right of the child. Hence, child support payments are suggested by the state “Child Support Guidelines” to ensure that they are not lesser than appropriate.

Along with the State Judicial System, the Colorado Child Support Services Program works with parents and caregivers to ensure that children in Colorado access the financial support they need. They help set up and modify child support orders and collect child support payments. The Colorado Department of Human Services provides these services through the Child Support Enforcement Program (CSEP) which is funded by the federal and state government.

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What is Colorado Child Support?

Colorado child support is generally the fixed monthly amount that ensures that a child’s financial needs are adequately sorted regardless of the parents’ relationship. The state has guidelines that intend for child support payments to be the same amount that the children would receive if they still lived with both caregivers.

These payments are usually made by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent or caregiver. The state allows them to create their own child support agreements. However, if the court reviews the agreement and it deviates from the state child support guidelines, it won’t be approved. In that case, the court would create a new payment plan based on the child support guidelines. It is essential to note that the child support is not awarded to the custodial parent. Instead, it is a benefit awarded to and owned by the children.

What Does Child Support Cover in Colorado?

Colorado child support covers all child-related expenses. Usually, these include basic and extraordinary costs. The child’s basic or necessary expenses include;

  • Housing,
  • Feeding
  • Clothing
  • Pocket allowance
  • Healthcare
  • Transportation.

Providing a comfortable life for a child goes beyond satisfying their basic needs to providing them with additional care covered by extraordinary expenses. These usually include costs of extracurricular activities, child’s unique needs, extraordinary medical fees, private tutoring, trips, and vacations, etc. These expenses are agreed upon by the parents when creating their parenting plan. They may choose to address these costs as they come or create a monthly estimate and add it to basic expenses.

What is the Average Child Support Payment in Colorado?

Child support payments in the state are determined by the Colorado State Legislature’s Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines are based primarily on a family’s income, which varies from one family to another. As a result, there is no set amount for child support payments in the state. The guidelines were created to ensure that a fair share of each parent’s income and resources goes to their children.

The guidelines determine the monthly payment based on what the family would have spent if the parents were not divorced, separated, or unmarried. Factors considered in the approach include:

  • Parent’s gross income
  • How much time the children spend with each parent.
  • All expenses specific to the child’s needs
  • Extraordinary expenses

When making the financial calculations, the courts consider each parent’s income sources such as salary, wages, investments, pensions, unemployment benefits, etc. The court may deviate from the guideline or make exceptions under certain circumstances. For example, the guideline may not apply the same formula to parents with low-income margins (between $850-$1850 monthly).

How do I apply for Child Support in Colorado?

Custodial parents and guardians that require assistance to raise their children can apply for child support through the Colorado Division of Child Support Services. They can start an online application to download, print, fill and sign the applications for child support. Afterward, they may submit the application to the local child support office. As an alternative to the online application, they can visit a county child support office to complete the application process with a $20 fee.

By applying, they may access services such as:

  • Establishing paternity
  • Establishing, enforcing, and modifying child/medical support order
  • Collecting past-due child support

How Do I Get Out of Paying Child Support in Colorado?

In most cases, the inability to make a child support payment may be due to decreased income level, unemployment, incarceration, or other kinds of hardship, making it impossible to make payment. In this case, the state court provides options for making a support modification. Usually, if it was a case of refusal to payment despite being able to, the court uses harsher means to collect payments. However, more lenient measures are applied in the cases where the parent is unable to pay. The state child support law aims to find amicable solutions that satisfy both parties while fulfilling the child’s best interests. In most cases, the court allows temporary modification to child support orders until the non-custodial parent can sort the issues out.

Regardless, child support payments are usually terminated legally when the child is emancipated at the age of 19. The payment obligation may extend until the child is 21 years, but this is only applicable in cases where the child is physically or mentally disabled

What is Back Child Support in Colorado?

Under Colorado law, back child support is known as child support arrears. It occurs when a paying parent has not met their financial obligations regarding child support payment, especially when there is already a court order or agreement in place.

In Colorado, failure to make these payments may lead to dire consequences for the payor. Therefore, according to state and federal law, any parent who owes child support arrears must pay the debt in full regardless of if the child is emancipated from the parents or not. Usually, these repayments might include interest charges.

How do I Get Back Child Support Paid in Colorado?

Before enforcing child support agreements to collect back child support in Colorado, custodial parents or guardians must note that they can only enforce child support agreements that are part of a court order. Therefore, if the child support payment is based on an oral or written agreement that is not filed and approved by the state court, the relevant organizations will be unable to enforce it.

However, if the agreement is incorporated into a court order, it is enforceable. The courts strictly enforce the payment on delinquent parents via the following means:

  • Filing a Motion for Contempt: Custodial parents can file 2 types of contempt motions, punitive and remedial. The remedial contempt motion requests that the court orders the delinquent parent to be held in jail till payment is made. In contrast, punitive contempt motion requests that the court punishes the delinquent parent for failure to make payment. Unlike the case of remedial contempt, this motion requires the filing party to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defaulting parent refused to pay child support despite having the ability to do so.
  • Court Orders to Collect Child Support: After a parent is held in contempt, the judge may order the Colorado Child Support Enforcement Unit (CSEU) to take specific actions to collect payment. These include seizing or intercepting the parent’s earnings or asset, placing liens on the individual’s real or personal property, driver’s license suspension, professional, occupational, and recreational license suspension, etc.

In more serious cases of failing to pay child support, The CSEU may report the case to federal prosecutors because it is a federal crime. In this situation, the prosecutor can file a criminal action against the delinquent parent. This can result in the individual being convicted of a misdemeanor and being incarcerated for a significant amount of time.

Is there a Colorado Statutes of Limitation on Child Support?

Colorado Statute of limitations on child support provides the maximum time within which an individual, usually the parent or guardian with child custody, can initiate legal proceedings to collect child support arrears. As a general rule in the state, legal action to collect this payment can be initiated at any time, as there is no statute of limitation on child support arrears or retroactive child support. Additionally, they can collect these payments and receive a 12% interest as well.

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