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Millions racking up in unpaid Colorado child support

A local news station out of Pueblo, Colorado, recently did a two-part series on unpaid child support in El Paso and Pueblo counties. The new station reports that there are millions of dollars in unpaid child support in just these two counties. In the second part of the series, the new channel looked at how the child custody laws in Colorado compare to those across the U.S.

Two ways that counties in Texas have used to try to collect unpaid child support is with billboards on interstates and highways and "warrant round-ups." In the two Colorado counties mentioned above, neither has been tried. One attorney says that the most effective way for enforcing child support orders is "wage garnishment." He believes that this is an underused tool and that it could significantly help in preventing non-custodial parents from missing payments.

The child support centers that the news station interviewed said that the current system works just fine and doesn't need any modifications. That current system of enforcement includes the loss of driving privileges, jail time, wage garnishment and home liens.

Child Support Services in Colorado can, according to state law, place a lien on a variety of property, including motor vehicles, real property and personal property. This means that until the past-due child support is paid, the non-custodial parent can't sell or trade the property. Judgments can also be issued for any amount of past-due child support.

Up to 65 percent of a "person's disposable income" can be garnished to pay back child support; however, this law does take into account how long the child support has been behind and the situation of the payee's family. Bank accounts can be garnished, but CSS must get the one-time order through the court.

Contempt of court charges can be filed against the person who does not pay child support, too. This can result in jail time or fines. The length of incarceration or the amount of the fines is up to the judge.

While there are other ways that a person can be penalized for unpaid child support - including some at the federal level - it usually takes some sort of action on the part of the custodial parent in order to get the ball rolling. An experienced family law attorney can help get the process started.

Source:  koaa.com, "News 5 Guardians Update: Unpaid child support in Colorado" Eric Ross, Dec. 16, 2013

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