What Happens if You Don’t Pay Child Support in Colorado?

Laura E. Shapiro -

For many parents, child support payments are vital to ensuring their children’s well-being.

But what happens when circumstances change, and you find it challenging to make these payments? 

Understanding the consequences of failing to pay child support and the options available to help you navigate this difficult situation is essential. 

In this article, we’ll delve into what happens if you don’t pay child support, the impact on your finances, and the actions child support enforcement can take.

We’ll also discuss how to modify child support orders, seek legal help, and explore financial assistance and programs designed to help struggling parents.

Child Support Payments

Short Summary

  • Failure to pay child support in Colorado can lead to severe legal and financial implications, including fines, wage garnishment, driver’s license suspension, and jail time.
  • Unpaid child support can damage credit scores and accumulate interest over time.
  • Parents facing payment difficulties may be eligible for job training initiatives in Colorado.

Consequences of Failing to Pay Child Support

Failing to pay child support has many consequences that can significantly affect your life and finances.

These consequences include legal penalties, wage garnishment, and driver’s license suspension or revocation.

Jail is a possible consequence of non-payment of child support

It’s crucial to be aware of these repercussions as they can have long-lasting impacts on both your life and your relationship with your child.

Legal Penalties

Legal penalties for not paying child support can be quite severe, including fines, contempt of court, and incarceration.

In Colorado, a delinquent parent can be charged with a misdemeanor offense and face significant jail time for failure to pay child support.

Moreover, being found guilty of disregarding court-ordered child support can lead to legal consequences, even if the parent has made some payments in the past.

Wage Garnishment

Wage garnishment is a standard enforcement action in which a portion of an individual’s wages are withheld by their employer and remitted directly to the creditor, often used in child support cases.

This process ensures regular payment when the obligor has a steady job with a predictable paycheck, helping them support their child financially.

In Colorado, for example, Child Support Services can request the court to issue a Writ of Garnishment to deduct up to 65% of a parent’s disposable earnings for child support purposes.

This method effectively prevents employed parents from evading their child support payments.

Can Your License Be Suspended For Not Paying Child Support

Non-payment of child support can result in the suspension or revocation of various licenses, including driver’s, professional, and recreational licenses.  

If you fail to meet your obligation, you may receive a notice from Child Support Services that your license is suspended.

The notice will outline the criteria you must comply with to have the suspension lifted. 

In some cases, child support can be reduced to judgment then a lien may be placed on a parent’s property as a legal claim until the debt is fully satisfied.

A lien does not result in immediate payment, and the parent who is owed support typically has to wait until the obligor can liquidate the property or pay off the lien.

Financial Impact of Unpaid Child Support

The financial impact of unpaid child support extends beyond the immediate consequences.

Delinquent payments can have lasting effects on your credit score and lead to the accumulation of interest on overdue amounts.

Understanding these impacts can help you better grasp the importance of staying current with your child support payments.

Credit Score Damage

Delinquent child support payments can severely damage your credit score.

Child support arrears may be reported on your credit report for up to seven years, negatively impacting your credit score.

Bad Credit

This decrease in credit score can have lasting consequences, making securing loans or credit cards difficult.

By staying current on your child support payments, you can prevent this damage to your credit and maintain a healthy financial future.

Interest Accumulation

Many states charge interest on overdue child support payments, increasing the total amount owed over time.

Delinquent payments in Colorado accrue interest at a rate of 10% per annum on arrears accrued since July 1, 2021, and 12% for arrears before that date. 

This means that the longer you delay making payments, the more you will owe in the long run.

Staying current on your child support payments can help you avoid this additional financial burden.

Enforcement Actions by Child Support Service

The Child Support Enforcement Act gives Colorado’s Child Support Services the power to enforce child support obligations.

The Child Support Services Program can employ various enforcement actions, such as intercepting tax refunds, placing liens on property, and restricting passports.

By understanding these enforcement actions, you can better navigate the complexities of child support and ensure that you meet your obligations.

Tax Refund Interception

Tax refund interception is an effective enforcement action that allows child support agencies to seize federal and state tax refunds from noncustodial parents who owe child support.

Tax Refund Intercepted

This process involves the child support agency sending a notification to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) or state tax agency to intercept the noncustodial parent’s tax refund.

The IRS or state tax agency then forwards the intercepted funds to the child support agency.

The repercussions of tax refund interception include the parent who owes support being unable to obtain their tax refund, and the child support agency can utilize the intercepted funds to settle past-due child support.

Property Liens

Property liens can be placed on assets like real estate and vehicles until the child support debt is paid off.

These liens serve as a legal claim on the property and can be enforced by the parent or Child Support Services.

It is important to be aware of the potential implications of property liens on your assets and work towards fulfilling your child support obligations. 

Understanding the process and the consequences of not paying child support can help you make informed decisions and meet your obligations.

Passport Restrictions

Parents who owe more than $2,500 in child support may be ineligible for a U.S. passport and face additional travel restrictions.

This enforcement action can have significant consequences on your personal and professional life, limiting your ability to travel and pursue opportunities overseas.

By staying current on your child support payments, you can avoid the consequences of owing back child support and maintain your freedom to travel.

Visitation Rights and Unpaid Child Support

While the consequences of failing to pay child support can be severe, it’s important to note that visitation rights are not affected by unpaid child support.

Noncustodial parents are still allowed to maintain contact with children, and withholding visitation due to outstanding child support is not supported by the law and may lead to legal repercussions. 

What Happens If I Lose My Job and Can’t Pay Child Support

Suppose your financial circumstances change, such as job loss, and you struggle to make child support payments.

In that case, it’s important to know that you can request a child support modification of your child support order. 

Lady with an empty wallet looking at bills

By notifying the court of financial changes and providing the necessary documentation, you can work towards a more manageable payment plan that reflects your current financial situation.

This process can be complicated, so it’s important to understand the steps involved.

First, you must file a motion with the court to modify the existing child support order.

You must provide evidence of your current financial situation, such as pay stubs and tax returns.

Court Notification

Informing the court of any financial difficulties or changes in circumstances that may affect your ability to pay child support is very important.

Failure to do so may be interpreted as a refusal to pay child support, resulting in legal penalties and enforcement actions.

Notification would be done via a motion to modify child support.

By being proactive and notifying the court, you can work toward an adjusted arrangement that considers your financial hardships, such as unemployment or unanticipated medical expenses.

Gathering Documentation

When requesting a child support modification, gathering documentation to support your request is essential.

Documentation may include pay stubs, expense records, and other financial documents demonstrating your inability to meet the monthly obligation.

Providing this documentation to the court will help them understand your financial situation and make an informed decision regarding the modification of your child support order.

Seeking Legal Help for Child Support Issues

If you’re struggling with child support issues, seeking legal help from a Denver child support lawyer or Child Support Services can be invaluable.

These professionals can guide you through the legal process, ensure that child support payments are equitable and reliable, assist in enforcing child support orders, and modify them if needed.

They can also provide legal representation in court, helping you navigate the complexities of child support and ensuring that your rights are protected.


In conclusion, understanding the consequences of failing to pay child support and the options available to address these challenges is crucial.

From legal penalties and enforcement actions to modifying child support orders and seeking legal help, you must proactively manage your child support obligations. 

By staying informed and taking advantage of financial assistance programs, you can better navigate the complexities of child support and ensure your child’s well-being.

Take proactive steps to navigate this complex situation by seeking legal assistance and staying informed about available options.

At Shapiro Family Law, our Denver child support lawyers are here to help you through this challenging process. 

Contact us today at 303-695-0200 or submit a form to ensure the best outcome for you and your child, and avoid the potential repercussions that arise from neglecting child support obligations.

Laura E. Shapiro

Laura Shapiro is an award-winning Family Law Attorney with 40+ years of experience. Laura practices Family Law exclusively with her primary focus being divorce and child custody matters.

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