News 5 Investigates

Dec 16, 2013 7:24 PM by Eric Ross

News 5 Investigates: Unpaid child support in Colorado

Last week on News 5, we uncovered millions of dollars in child support goes uncollected each year in Pueblo and El Paso counties. Now, we're looking at current laws and comparing them to others across the nation.

While child support laws and penalties are very similar across the U.S., the enforcement tactics used vary from state to state.

For example, in Texas, counties have the authority to perform "warrant round-ups" and post billboards of deadbeat parents on highways and interstates.

While neither tactic has been used in El Paso or Pueblo County, Bill Moller with The Moller Law Group says one of the best tools our justice system has to boost compliance rates is to use the "wage garnishment" penalty more frequently.

"I think sometimes that tool isn't used as often as it should and if we started a precedent, I think we could prevent missed payments in the future," Moller said.

Both child support services centers in El Paso in Pueblo County said the current system in place is working, and would not make any modification to their policies and procedures.

Two of the biggest obstacles involving child support cases in Colorado is when parents work "under the table" for cash or live outside the State.

Currently, parents who fail to pay child support could lose their driver's license, have their wages garnished, spend time in jail or have a lien placed on their home.

To access the Colorado Division of Child Support Services, you can go to the following web site:

Many single parents have been sharing their child support services story with News 5. If you have a story or idea you'd like to share with us, please email

Below is a more in-depth look at the laws/policies regarding child support in Colorado:

Child Support Services (CSS) has the authority to issue a judgment for any amount of child support that becomes past due. Judgments are for specific time periods and dollar amounts.

Legal Authority:
Section 14-10-122, C.R.S.

Liens - Real And Personal Property
CSS has the authority to execute a lien on personal property, real property or the motor vehicle of the person obligated to pay support. The lien must be satisfied by being paid in full to release the lien on the property.

Legal Authority:
Section 13-52-104, C.R.S.
Section 13-54-102, C.R.S.
Section 14-14-122, C.R.S.

CSS has the authority to file with the Court to find the person obligated to pay support in contempt of court for willfully failing or refusing to do so as ordered by the Court. This person may be fined and/or jailed for a period of time, which is at the discretion of the Court.

Legal Authority:
Section 14-14-110, C.R.S.

Rule 69:
CSS has the authority to attach assets using Rule 69 when the obligated party does not have a verifiable source of income or real property against which to place a lien and has past due child support. This person is served with a subpoena that requires them to appear at a court hearing.

Legal Authority:
Rule 69, Colorado Rules of Civil Procedure.

Garnishment - 2 Types of Garnishments
CSS has the authority to seize the income of a person ordered to pay child support to satisfy past due obligations by requesting the Court to issue a continuing Writ of Garnishment. Up to 65% of this person's disposable earnings may be taken depending upon the family situation and age of past due support.

CSS has the authority to use a one-time garnishment by requesting the Court to issue a Writ of Garnishment with Notice of Exemption and Pending Levy. This is executed on non-income, personal property such as bank accounts for the payment of past due child support.

Legal Authority:
Section 13-54-104, C.R.S.
Section 13-54.5-106, C.R.S.
Section 14-14-105, C.R.S.

Federal Prosecution:
Federal law authorizes prosecution at the federal level for non-payment of child support. If the party has left the state where the child resides and fails to pay child support, they can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the amount past due and the time since a payment was made. The US Attorney General's Office is responsible for these prosecutions at the request of the Colorado CSS Office.




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