Not every child support case is clear cut. You may have questions and concerns if you're paying child support to the custodial parent, but there's no court order in effect. Additionally, matters can get complicated when you've recently found out that you are a father or you might be, due to complications regarding back support payments.
The complexity further multiplies when you realize that your rights have not been sufficiently protected during the initial divorce proceedings. However, it's never too late to seek out a better arrangement.
This post explains the premises of Colorado child support statute of limitations. Statute of limitations is a law provisioning the maximum time after a certain even within which you can initiate legal proceedings. In terms of child support, there are several significant instances when different time limits apply.
Child Support Arrears
As a general rule, if back child support is owed, the custodial parent has the right to go through the courts to collect that money at any time.
Colorado law is written in their favor. In fact, not only can parents collect back payments, they can receive a 12% interest on those payments as well. Failing to pay back support or 'child support arrears' can lead to liens, wage garnishments, even prosecution.
What about cases when the parent doesn’t know about the child, or there was no previous order for child support? That depends. Retroactive child support is not automatic in Colorado. However, it can be ordered in cases where:
- The non-custodial parent lied about income or hid assets.
- The non-custodial parent deliberately avoided paying support.
- The custodial parent shows a need for retroactive support.
- There is a delay between filing for support and the final hearing.
It’s also important to understand that because of the Bradley Amendment, past-due child support payments cannot be retroactively modified or entirely dismissed by the courts.
Child Support Emancipation
For how long is child support owed? Does it end when the child turns 18? When they finish high school? What happens when the child is disabled or has other special needs?
Child support in Colorado could once be ordered until the child turned 21. This has since been lowered to 19. There can be exceptions made to this. If a child has a disability, for example, child support may be ordered beyond the age of 19. Also, if the child is enrolled in a high school program or its equivalent, support can be ordered to continue. However, that support cannot be ordered beyond the age of 21.
Unique Child Support Considerations
Not all child support is payable to the custodial parent. Sometimes, the state takes action to collect support. This can happen if the child received benefits such as TANF. In these cases, the state can collect child support to offset these benefits.
In these situations, the parent owing support may be offered forgiveness or compromise that can reduce the amount owed. However, only select counties provide this. You would be best advised to check in with a Colorado attorney who is familiar with this program.
Are there other situations that can impact child support obligations? The answer is yes! For example, if your child joins the military, is emancipated, or otherwise becomes financially independent child support obligations end.
Whether you are a custodial parent who is concerned with collecting the support you are owed or a paying parent who wants to know your rights and responsibilities, help is available. Before you make any decisions or take any action, contact a family law attorney for advice.