What if my ex can’t pay child support

The pandemic has impacted all or nearly all parts of our lives. The biggest issue for millions of Americans is that they have been laid off, furloughed or unable to earn at their pre-pandemic level. Perhaps they can’t find new work. While the government has provided some assistance, many find that they cannot make ends meet.

It is a serious fear among parents, particularly if they are divorced. While court orders regarding payments remain in effect, a spouse may find herself or himself out of work and unable to meet the divorce agreement’s financial commitments.

State services available?

The first place many can turn to here in Colorado is Child Support Services. These offices manage all child support orders in each county and can often answer questions. They can also help with the children’s health insurance, enforcement, collecting payments, and make changes in an existing order.

Working it out between the parents

Those in this situation can seek relief, but they can’t legally agree to waive payments without a modification. It is common for parents to make short-term or permanent modifications when circumstances allow for it. Some options for doing this include:

  • Suspend: This can be for a fixed period, but the money is owed and needs to be paid within a specific period.
  • Reduce: This can be a temporary agreement.

The two sides must confer (often with lawyers representing them) before filing one of the above motions to modify child support payments. Those who miss or reduce payments without a court agreement risk legal sanctions that include fines, attorney fees, jail, or other penalties.

Motion to modify support

This is a permanent change. The two sides will often use mediation, which can be conducted by phone or Zoom, Skype or another video format. They then file a motion to modify support. At this time, the courts are operating at a limited level, so it will likely be months before it is official. Until that time, all payments are still due. Interest on missed child support payments is steep at 12%, which is compounded monthly.

Each situation is different

Those with questions about their circumstances can contact an attorney who handles family law matters here in Colorado. These legal professionals can help resolve disputes equitably and can even provide creative solutions to these matters.

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