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What can I do if I am unable to make my child support payments?

Child support obligations in Colorado are based on presumptive guidelines which take into account each parent's gross monthly income. Sometimes, however, a change in circumstances such as job loss or serious illness makes it impossible for a parent to keep up with the payments.

When this happens, the parent can apply to the court for a child support modification. To qualify for a modification, the parent must show a change in circumstances that is both substantial and continuing. The court will apply the child support guidelines to the parents' income as of the date the modification is requested. If the new calculation would result in a change in the monthly payment of less than ten percent, the change in circumstances will be considered not substantial or continuing, and no modification will be granted.

A parent experiencing difficulty making child support payments must act quickly to seek a modification. If you wait too long, the state may begin enforcement actions. The penalties for failure to pay child support can be severe.

The Legislature has given Colorado Child Support Services extensive enforcement power to collect both past due and current child support. CSS has vast enforcement rights under Colorado law. CSS can garnish wages, workers' compensation benefits and unemployment benefits. It can suspend driver's, professional and recreational licenses. It can intercept federal and state tax refunds. It can attach assets and put liens on property.

If a parent leaves the state and fails to pay child support, they can be charged under federal law. Depending on the amount of the delinquent payments and the date of the last payment, the case can be prosecuted as either a misdemeanor or a felony.

To head off potential enforcement action, a parent experiencing a change in circumstances should seek a child support modification as soon as possible. An experienced Colorado family law attorney can evaluate the situation and help identify options.

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