Colorado family courts always place the best interests of a child as their highest priority. With that in mind, judges give careful consideration to child support orders and issue them to prevent children from suffering a significant change in their lifestyles and to keep one parent from bearing the brunt of the burden of providing for the children of a marriage or partnership.
For this reason, it’s challenging to fight a court order for back child support. When circumstances drastically change and a parent is unable to keep up their court-ordered child support payments, it’s a much better option to file an order for a modification of the existing order rather than to fall into arrears. Failure to pay child support is a crime in Colorado and can result in jail time. However, if you have valid reasons for being unable to pay the back child support you owe, there are some legal avenues available to you that allow you to contest the order.
What are Some Valid Grounds for Not Paying Child Support?
Courts find very few reasons for not paying child support acceptable and are not typically amenable to overturning orders for back-owed child support; however, there are a few reasons a court may consider overturning your orders. These include the following:
- You are not the child’s biological parent and had only limited time in a parenting role for the child
- There was an agreed-upon change in child custody or parenting time
- The child is now an adult, has joined the military, has gotten married, or is now self-supporting
- If you’ve suffered a sudden significant loss of income
- If you’ve paid the child support amount owed
Any of the above grounds are among the few that Colorado courts consider valid reasons for overturning a court order for child support arrearages. The court will carefully investigate claims such as these before making a ruling. You’ll need a strong defense by a skilled Denver family lawyer, together with evidence to support your claim before presenting these arguments to a judge.
The Importance of Evidence to Defend Against Back-Owed Child Support
Before presenting your grounds for not paying back-owed child support to the court, it’s crucial to have solid evidence proving the validity of your claims. Depending on the nature of your claim evidence could include:
- Paternity test results
- Court orders showing a change in the amount of time the children are in your custody compared to the original order, or proof of an agreed-upon, out-of-court change in parenting time
- Employer records showing sudden job loss or a significant pay reduction
- Records showing that you’ve already paid the child support amount that your ex-spouse or the state claims that you owe
While clerical mistakes of this type are rare, it isn’t unheard of that records of your payment may become lost or a mistake in the system indicates that amounts you’ve already paid are in arrears. If this is the case, you and your attorney should be ready to present documents to show your evidence of payment to the court.
The Importance of Finding an Experienced Attorney to Fight Orders for Back Child Support
If you have a valid reason for not paying child support in Colorado, an attorney can help you to defend yourself against the state’s strict enforcement measures which could include:
- Contempt charges
- Wage garnishment
- Liens against bank accounts and property
- Mounting interest
- Suspension of a professional license
- Prosecution and jail time
While many lawyers have a great deal of experience in court orders for child support and child support enforcement procedures, it may be more challenging to find a seasoned attorney with experience in defending clients who are fighting an order for back child support. You need an attorney with experience in this specialized area to ensure that the court hears your side of the story.