Using the Contempt Process to Enforce Support Orders

In a perfect world, everyone would pay their child support, and everyone would pay their child support on time. Obviously, our world is far from perfect, and often times a person may pay his or her court ordered child support late, or even worse, not pay it at all.

This leaves the party who is ordered to be the recipient of the child support payments in a precarious situation. Money that they are depending on and have budgeted for to help them take care of their children suddenly doesn’t come on time or come at all, and the parent who has been stiffed is forced to figure out how to get by on the fly. This is certainly unfair to them, and is even more unfair to every child involved.

So, what recourse does a parent have when child support orders are not followed, and payments are not made or are made late?

There are several ways to go about this.  One such mechanism is contempt of court. Under the Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure Rule 107, disobeying a child support order by the Court may be considered contempt, and remedial and punitive sanctions may be imposed on the party who is disobeying or not complying with the child support order.

So how does one begin the process of enforcing a child support order? First, in order for the Court to hold the nonpaying party in contempt and impose sanctions, the Court must first be made aware of the noncompliance of the child support order. In a motion for contempt, a party may inform the Court of the nonpayment of child support, and may also request sanctions, such as fines, attorneys fees for their having to hire counsel to pursue the contempt and enforce the child support order, and they may even request jail time for the party in noncompliance of the support order. Liens may be put on property and wages may be garnished in order for the wronged party to be made whole.

As with almost every issue litigated in our legal system, the Court will afford the party accused of not paying child support an opportunity to be heard and to explain to the Court why he or she should not be held in contempt and sanctioned by the Court.

In short, if you are owed child support and are not being paid, there are several legal processes with which to enforce your child support order. Having an attorney help you navigate these confusing waters can help alleviate stress for you and put you on the path to getting the money you are legally entitled to, the money that you and your children depend on. The sooner you act, the sooner you will have the opportunity to achieve results. Give us a call anytime to set up a free consultation.

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