If you’ve failed to pay court-ordered support in Colorado, the court can charge you with contempt of court. If it finds you guilty, it will require you to pay a fine or send you to jail. Here’s how contempt works in Colorado family law.
A contempt charge is a courts way of punishing you for not following the orders, directions, or rules of the court.
A court can charge you with contempt for things like refusing to answer a question, not filing papers on time, not following the rules of the court, or any other act of noncompliance with the court. In family law, contempt charges often involve nonpayment of support. With a contempt charge, the court can punish you for not paying the child or spousal support it ordered you to pay. Possible punishments include a fine or imprisonment.
If the court has ordered your ex to pay you support and he or she has not paid, you can request that the court issue a charge of contempt. Here’s a summary of what you’ll need to do.
You can get the required forms as well as detailed instructions for filling them out in the Forms section of the website of the Judicial Branch of Colorado.
In Colorado, under Colorado Revised Statute 14-14-10(1), you can prove that your ex hasn’t paid using:
The Family Support Registry is a state-run organization that helps families get the support a court ordered them to receive. The mission of the FSR is to track down support payments. If you have a court order for support but you’re not receiving payments, you might try contacting the FSR before filing a requesting a contempt charge. The FSR website is https://childsupport.state.co.us.
If the court has charged you with contempt for not paying court-ordered support, your best move is to pay the amount you owe. If you do, when considering the contempt charge – and any punishment -- the court can take your payment into account. The court can also take into account that you cannot pay because of physical incapacity or another “good cause.” If you want to argue that you did not pay because you cannot pay, consider getting help from a lawyer so that you can make the best possible argument. The court may have to provide a lawyer for you if the person requesting the contempt order also requested that you be punished with jail time and you cannot afford hire a lawyer for yourself.
If you do not show up for your contempt hearing, the court can issue a warrant for your arrest.
You can read Colorado’s laws about contempt for nonpayment of support in Colorado Revised Statute 14-14-10(1). Colorado posts its statutes online through LexisNexis at this address: http://www.lexisnexis.com/hottopics/colorado/.
Contact the Family Support Registry to help you make support payments or to track down payments owed to you. And get more free legal information about Colorado Divorce and Family Law on Divorcenet.com.