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How Colorado enforces child custody and support orders

For many people, the finalization of a divorce decree is a sign that they can start rebuilding their lives. Once the court has determined how to divide your assets and allocate parental responsibilities, you may hope to simply leave your marriage behind you. However, just because a court issues an order in your Colorado divorce doesn't inherently mean that your spouse will comply.

Some people simply refuse to uphold the terms of their divorce. In some cases, that could mean refusing to pay child support. That can leave the parent with primary custody in a financially difficult position. Other times, it could mean flouting the times and rules in a parenting plan, creating a chaotic exchange of custody and leaving the other parent unable to depend on shared custody.

Enforcing child support often requires outside help

Non-custodial parents can do a lot of underhanded things to avoid paying child support. For example, they may quit their existing job and seek out a new position without telling you or advising the courts. In some cases, this job may pay "under the table," which will prevent the courts from garnishing that income if you do identify the employer.

Thankfully, Colorado has several valid options for enforcing child support orders. If the state can track down the other parent's employer, they can obtain an income assignment against any future wages. That includes unemployment and workers' compensation income. In situations where such action isn't possible, the state may intercept and allocate federal or state tax returns, lottery, gambling winnings or any unclaimed property. They can also suspend licenses that allow your ex to drive, hunt or participate in a professional career.

The state can take action regarding the parenting plan as well

The sad truth is that some people seek custody or visitation rights and then decide to disengage from the children involved. If your former spouse no longer shows up for visitation or takes the children during his or her assigned parenting time, you will have little recourse. You can refuse to reschedule if visits get repeatedly canceled, but you can't make the other parent show up.

The courts cannot force one parent to spend time with the children. In this scenario, your best option may involve seeking a child support modification that reflects the lack of parenting involvement or a change of the custody agreement.

If the custody issue goes the other way, with your ex refusing to return the children on time or release them into your custody, you may have several options. Law enforcement can contact your ex and secure your children if he or she refuses to return them. Repeated violations like this could result in criminal charges related to parental abduction or, at the very least, grounds for requesting a modification of your parenting plan.

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