> Departments > Human Services > FAQ > Child Support

Child Support Questions & Answers

If you do not find your answers here, you can also check on the State of Colorado website: State of Colorado Child Support FAQ

Establishment / Paternity

  1. What is Establishment?

    Establishment means getting a legal paternity finding or a child support order.

  2. What is Paternity?

    Paternity means fatherhood. If parents are married, the husband is considered to be the father of children born during the marriage. If parents are not married, it is important that paternity be legally established. Otherwise, the baby has no legal father.

  3. Why should I establish paternity?
    • Identity - It is important to all of us to know who we are. All children have the right to know their mother and father; the right to a sense of belonging.
    • Money - both parents are required by law to support the child. It is not fair for just one parent to have the financial burden. Frequently, children supported by only one parent are poorer than children supported by both parents. They need child support. In order to get support, paternity must be established.
    • Medical history - You and your child need to know if he or she has inherited any special health problems. Also, it might be possible to obtain medical insurance for your child through the father's employer, union, or military service.
    • Benefits - The child has a right to benefits from either parent. These may include Social Security, insurance, veterans benefits, or inheritance rights.

    Genetic testing is available at a very reasonable cost through our program. There is no charge if paternity is not established

  4. How is paternity established?

    Not all states establish paternity the same way but, in general, there are two ways in which paternity can be established:

    1. If the man you name as the father of your child agrees he is the father, he will be asked to sign an official form stating he is the father. In many hospitals and clinics, these forms are available to parents immediately following the birth of their child. This form will be used by a judge or a hearing officer to legally establish paternity. In many states, you do not have to appear in court to establish your child's paternity.
    2. If the man you name as the father of your child denies being the father, or if you are unsure of who the father is, blood/genetic test can be done.
  5. What if the father still denies being the father after a paternity test?

    If the father continues to claim he is not the father, he is entitled to a court hearing on the matter. At the hearing, a judge listens to both sides and looks at the test results.

  6. What happens after paternity has been established?

    You may seek financial support for your child in order to help pay for necessary living expenses. Under the law, your child is entitled to this support.

    The amount of your monthly child support payment is decided by the laws of the state in which you live. Child support orders require that the father provide financial support for his child until the child is 18 years of age (or older depending upon state law).

  7. How long after a child is born can paternity be established?

    Federal law requires states to allow a paternity action to be started anytime before the child reaches the age of 18 or later depending upon state law.

  8. What if the father is unemployed or in school?

    Regardless of the father's current situation, his legal responsibility should be established as quickly as possible following your child's birth. His support level (monthly payments) is based on his income level. When the father gets a job, collecting child support will be easier if paternity is already established.

  9. Can paternity be established even if the father lives in another state?

    Yes, paternity can be established if the father of your child lives out of state, but it may take more time.

  10. Does my child's father have a right to visitation?

    Visitation can often be the first step in a healthy relationship between your child and his or her father, although visitation rights are not automatic with the establishment of paternity.

    Visitation terms can be arranged informally between you and the father or set by the court. If there is a disagreement, the court would have to settle the matter.

Enforcement

  1. Who is eligible to receive child support services?

    All parents with minor children who need or are owed child support can apply for services

  2. What information is needed to collect child support?

    The non custodial parent's social security number, date of birth, address, name of employer, bank account number, and property holding documents are helpful sources of information.

  3. Where can I find this information?
    • State and federal tax returns
    • Unemployment records
    • Hospital or medical records
    • Check stubs
    • Military records
    • Insurance policies

    If you can't find this information and you don't know where the non custodial parent lives or works, the Child Support Unit will attempt to find the non custodial parent through federal, state, and local agencies such as:

    • Social Security Administration
    • Internal Revenue Service
    • Colorado Department of Revenue
    • Colorado Department of Labor and Employment
    • Colorado Division of Motor Vehicles
    • Veterans Administration

    Finding a non custodial parent through these sources may take several months depending on the accuracy and reliability of the information you provide. When new information about the non custodial parent's address, employment or other income is identified, this information should be mailed to your child support worker.

  4. What enforcement remedies are available to collect child support?
    • Income withholding
    • Garnishment of wages and bank accounts
    • Interception of federal and state income tax refunds
    • Interception of unemployment compensation benefits
    • Assignment of workers' compensation benefits
    • Liens placed on personal and real property
    • Notification of child support debts to consumer reporting agencies
    • Drivers license suspension
  5. What if the non custodial parent lives in another state?

    All state child support agencies must cooperate with each other in processing requests for non custodial parent locate, paternity, establishment of support and medical orders and enforcement of support and medical orders. Each state has enacted laws under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) authorizing establishment and enforcement of child support orders across state lines. When an action is filed in the state of the non custodial parent's residence, the court and the child support unit in that state will pursue action on Colorado's behalf. When a non custodial parent is employed in another state, interstate wage withholding may be requested. In addition to wage withholding, an interstate case is subject to the other enforcement remedies that are available for in-state cases, such as property liens and income tax refund interceptions.

  6. What if my order hasn't changed in years, but the non custodial parent makes more money now?

    If you are currently receiving TANF, your order will be automatically and periodically reviewed. If you are not receiving TANF, either you or the non custodial parent has the right to request a review of the child support order. Contact your local child support unit for more information.

Employers

Employer Responsibilties

  1. How will I be informed that I have to start withholding child support from an employee's income?

    You will receive the "Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Support" as described in the definitions section of the Employer's Guide to Income Assignment booklet.

  2. I would rather not get involved in withholding for child support or insurance premiums. Can I terminate or refuse to hire individuals who have withholding against their income?

    No. If you refuse to hire, discipline or discharge an employee because of an income assignment for child support or insurance premiums; you may be cited for contempt of court, which may result in a fine or jail sentence.

  3. How long after I receive the order/notice do I begin the withholding from an employee's income, and when do I have to send in the payment?

    Withholding for child support is to begin no later than the first pay period that begins at least 14 working days after the date on the Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Support. This amount must be sent to the address on the order/notice within 7 working days after the date of each deduction and withholding would have been paid or credited to the employee. Failure to withhold the correct amount and remit each payment within the 7 working days can result in legal action being taken against your company.

  4. What will happen if I don't honor the order/notice to withhold income for support?

    If you do not withhold income for child support and/or insurance premiums, as specified in the order/notice(s), you may be liable for the full amount, as payments accumulate from the mailing date of the order/notice. You may also be held in contempt of court, which may result in a fine, jail sentence, or a judgment being entered against you.

  5. How do I know when to stop the withholding?

    The withholding remains in effect until you are notified in writing by the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) unit, the obligee, or the obligee's representative, to stop the withholding or of any changes. Only the person or representative that sent the order/notice to withhold income for support can stop the withholding. You may NOT stop the withholding merely because the employee has asked you to do so, or because your calculations indicate the arrears are paid. Failure to withhold may result in your liability for the payments not withheld.

  6. I am concerned that the withholding process will add administrative costs to my business. May I charge a fee to the employee?

    Yes. Colorado law allows you to extract a processing fee of up to $5.00 per month from the remainder of the employee's earnings after the child support has been withheld. Do not deduct the fee from the child support payment. There is no processing fee allowed for the Health Insurance Premium Order/Notice (HIP) or Nation Medical Support Notice (NMSN) withholding.

  7. Where do I send the child support that I have withheld from an employee's wages?

    Send all payments for child support to the address provided on the Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Support. If you receive an order/notice to redirect the payments after receiving the Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Support you must follow the redirect instructions.

  8. If an employee terminates employment and is later rehired, do I still honor the old order/notice to withhold income for support and/or HIP/NMSN, or do I wait until I receive a new order/notice(s)?

    You honor the existing Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Support, and/or HIP/NMSN, as the withholdings are continuous.

  9. Does child support take priority over other income assignments?

    Child support withholdings TAKE PRIORITY over any other legal process carried out under state law against the same wages. This means that child support must be withheld from disposable income before deductions for other withholding orders are taken, even if the other withholding orders were served first. If the total amount of child support to be withheld does not exceed 25% of the employee's disposable earnings, you may withhold up to the 25% limit for other withholdings. If the amount of child support to be withheld does exceed 25% of the employee's disposable earnings, the other withholding does not receive any money. The only exception is if a federal tax levy is received BEFORE the Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Support.

  10. What do I do when the employee leaves my employ?

    You must notify the Family Support Registry (FSR) in writing, when the employee terminates employment and you must provide the FSR with the obligor's name, date of separation, case identifier which shall be the family support registry account number, last known home address and the name and address of the obligor's new employer, if known. This information should also be supplied whenever an NMSN is terminated. If a HIP is in force, send the termination notice to the obligee or obligee's representative.

  11. What should I do if the employee tells me s/he has filed for bankruptcy?

    You should keep deducting child support until the CSE unit initiating the income assignment contacts you. Some chapters of bankruptcy include an automatic stay on an income assignment, and some allow continuance of the withholding for current support but not arrearages. You may wish to advise the employee to contact the CSE unit initiating the income assignment.

  12. Is there a penalty to a person who fraudulently sends an income assignment?

    Yes, a person submitting a fraudulent Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Support shall be subject to a fine of not less than one thousand dollars, court costs and attorney's fees.

  13. What additional information am I required to submit to the child support enforcement unit?

    You must provide information regarding health insurance. To provide this information, use the form included in the HIP Order/Notice provided by the obligee, obligee's representative to notify them of the:

    • Insurance carrier
    • Policy number
    • Group number
    • Effective date
    • Total cost to employee
    • This information must be submitted to the CSE unit when the first insurance deduction is made, and annually thereafter.

    For the NMSN, supply above information to the obligee and notify the CSE unit that health insurance is being provided.

  14. Calculating the Deduction

  15. What do I do if my pay periods are not the same frequency as the order?

    State law requires that you divide the withholding among the pay periods for the month, but the total amount withheld in a month must equal the monthly amount due as specified on the order/notice. In the event that your pay periods are more frequent than monthly, you shall withhold per pay period an appropriate percentage of the monthly amount due so that the total withheld during the month will total the monthly amount due. You shall forward payments within seven working days after the date of each deduction.

  16. Can I combine all the deductions I make in one pay period for all employees? And send one check?

    Yes. You can combine all payments going to the FSR in one check. The deductions must include the following information for each income assignment order for each employee. Providing this information will ensure that payments are not delayed due to insufficient information.

    • FSR account number (for each income assignment)
    • Employee name and social security number
    • Payment amount (for each income assignment)
    • Date withheld
    • Employer FEIN or FS employer ID
  17. Is there any limit to the amount that can be withheld and how do I figure that amount?

    Yes. The total amount allowed to be withheld from any employee's paycheck is limited by the consumer credit protection act (CCPA) (Section 13-54-104, C.R.S.) even if the employee has more than one withholding. The limits provided in the CCPA are from 50% to 65% of the employee's disposable earnings. If the total amount due according to the income assignment is less than 50% of the obligor's disposable earnings, submit the amount specified.

    However, if the total amount due exceeds 50% of the obligor's disposable income, and the box indicating arrears are over 12 weeks is checked, there are guidelines that must be followed to determine the amount to be withheld and sent.

    1. Determine the correct percent of income to be withheld. For child support garnishments or income assignment, a maximum of 65% of the obligor's disposable earnings may be taken.
    2. 65% if the obligor is not supporting other dependents and the child support arrearage is more than 12 weeks old
    3. 60% if the obligor is not supporting other dependents and the child support arrearage is less than 12 weeks old
    4. 55% if the obligor is supporting other dependents and the child support arrearage is more than 12 weeks old
    5. 50% if the obligor is supporting other dependents and the child support arrearage is less than 12 weeks old
    6. Determine the disposable earnings for the pay period, even if the obligor has worked only part time.
    7. Calculate the amount of the disposable earnings subject to withholding by multiplying the disposable earnings from step #2 by the applicable % from Step #1.
    8. The amount calculated in step #3 is the amount subject to withholding. If this amount is smaller than the total amount specified on the order/notice, this entire amount is sent to the address provided on the order/notice to withhold income for support as the child support withheld. If you are unsure of the correct percentage to use, contact the CSE unit that sent the order/notice to withhold income for support.
  18. How should I handle tips that the Employee receives?

    You should use the tips declared or imputed by the employee to calculate the total income, and base the disposable income on that total. When there is not enough income being paid to the employee to cover the amount on the order/notice, send in the total amount available. You are not responsible for collecting tips from your employee to cover the total amount on the order/notice. There is a sample calculation available in the Employers's Guide to Income Assignment booklet.

  19. How should I calculate the amount to be withheld if the obligor has more than one income assignment?

    If the obligor has more than one income assignment, you must use the following priority scheme to determine how much of the total withholding to send for each income assignment. The FSR is unable to prorate the amounts among multiple income assignments furan employee.

    1. Current monthly child support and maintenance when included in the child support order for all incomeassignments
    2. A specific dollar amount applied toward medical support, if ordered by the court (not health insurance premiums)
    3. Child support debt, arrears and retroactive support due, including medical support arrears
    4. Maintenance only

    The amount of support is prorated among the income assignments according to the amount due in each priority level. If the employee has sufficient disposable income to cover all of the current support due, deductions remade for current support for all families first. If the disposable income is not sufficient to cover all of the current support due, add the current support amount due for all orders giving a total amount due. Then divide the current support amount due in each order by the total amount due to determine the percent of the total for each order. Multiply the percentage for each order by the disposable income to determine what portion of the disposable income is paid to each family for current support.

    If the obligor has disposable income available after all the current support is paid and the income is sufficient to cover all medical orders, deductions for medical support for all families are made second. If the disposable income remaining after all current support is paid is not sufficient to cover medical orders, prorate among the families in the same fashion as for current monthly support.

    If the obligor has disposable income available after all current support and medical support is paid, deductions for support debt, child support arrears, retroactive support due, or medical support arrears are deducted third by prorating among the families in the same fashion as for current monthly support and medical support.

    If the obligor has disposable income available after the current support, medical support, child support debt, retroactive support due, and child support or medical support arrears are deducted, deductions for maintenance are taken fourth by prorating among the families in the same fashion stated in the prior paragraphs. There are three examples available in the Employers's Guide to Income Assignment booklet.

  20. How should I handle the moneys that my employee is putting in a tax deferred plan?

    You must first subtract the tax deferred amount before calculating the amount of taxes to be paid, and then add theta deferred amount back into the income before calculating the maximum amount of child support to be deducted. Child support must be satisfied before any deferment.

  21. Employee's Rights

  22. Will I have to tell the employee?

    Yes, you must provide copies of the Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Support, Health Insurance Premium Order/Notice or the nation medical support notice to the employee when you receive them if the designated field is checked on the order/notice.

  23. What should I do if an employee comes to me after I have received the order/notice to withhold income for support and wants to make voluntary payments for child support?

    The employee needs to direct this request to the agency or person named on the order/notice. You should begin the withholding as instructed in the Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Support.

  24. If the employee tells me that the amount to be deducted is wrong, what shall I do?

    Instruct the employee to contact the agency or person named on the order/notice. Unless you are notified otherwise by any of these entities, you should proceed with the withholding as ordered.

  25. If I have satisfied the required amount for the month and my employee receives additional money such as a bonus or commission check, do I have to deduct from this too?

    No, as long as the full amount has been satisfied for the month, you are not required to deduct additional money from these payments.

  26. Health Insurance Premium (HIP) or the National Medical Support Notice (NMSN)

  27. How will I be informed that I have to enroll the child/ran in a health insurance plan and begin making insurance premium deductions?

    You will receive one of two forms. A form called the health insurance premium order/notice (HIP) or a form called the national medical support notice (NMSN). The HIP will be sent from the obligee or obligee's representative, whereas the NMSN will be sent by the CSE unit. You do not need to make a withholding for a health insurance premium if you do not offer your employees and their families health insurance. However, you must advise the initiator of the order/notice of the lack of coverage.

  28. How long after I receive the order/notice do I begin withholding the insurance premium from an employee's income?

    Withholding for health insurance premiums is to begin no later than the first pay period that occurs 14 working days after the mailing date of the HIP order/notice and within 40 days for the NMSN. Failure to enroll the child/ren can result in legal action being taken against you.

  29. Where do I send the health insurance premiums that I have withheld from an employee's income?

    Health insurance premiums are to be paid directly to the insurance carrier.

  30. When do I make the deduction for health insurance premiums?

    The deduction is made after the deduction for taxes and before disposable income is determined.

  31. Is the health insurance premium the only medical coverage for which the employee will be responsible?

    No. on occasion, an obligor may also be ordered to pay specific amount of money each month toward specific medical costs. These specific medical amounts will be listed separately in the Order/Notice to Withhold Income for Support, and are included in the priority scheme for withholdings (mentioned in #18).

  32. If I receive an order/notice or NMSN, but the employee declares that they are providing insurance through other means, what should I do?

    You must, by law, follow the instruction on the HIP order/notice or NMSN. However, you may want to tell the employee to contact the CSE unit.

  33. What happens if the employee does not want health insurance for themselves, but is ordered to put the child/ren on the health insurance plan the company offers?

    If it is possible to put "only" the child/ren on the plan, that is adequate. However, most policies require that the employee be on the plan also. In that case, the employee has no choice but to be included in the plan, in order to abide by the court order.

  34. Is it my responsibility to notify the CSE unit when the insurance premiums increase?

    No, it is the employee's responsibility to inform the CSE unit of the change and may request a modification based on the increase in premiums. However, it is your responsibility to notify the obligee or obligee's representative that sent the HIP order/notice or the FSR if the NMSN was issued, when coverage terminates.

  35. Will the insurance company allow me to enroll the child/ren if it is not during open enrollment?

    By law, the HIP order/notice or NMSN constitutes a "significant life change" and the insurance company must accept enrollment of the child/ren at any time.

  36. What do I do if the employee is not enrolled in a health insurance plan?

    The child/ren subject to the order must be enrolled in the least costly plan available to the employee, unless the obligee chooses a plan on behalf of the child(ren) during the processing of the NMSN.

  37. Does "least costly" mean least costly to the employee or to me?

    It means least costly to the employee.

  38. Direct Interstate Income Withholding

  39. If I receive a withholding request directly from another state CSE agency, the obligee, or a representative of the obligee am I required to honor it?

    Yes. On January 1, 1995, Colorado implemented the uniform interstate family support act (UIFSA). 14-5-501 C.R.S. instructs you to do the following upon receipt of an order/notice to withhold income for support from another state:

    1. Process the order/notice issued in another state that appears regular on its face as if it had been issued in this state.
    2. Immediately provide a copy of the order/notice to the employee.
    3. Distribute the funds as directed in the withholding order/notice.

    Your employee may ask you what options are available to them to contest the order/notice. You must honor the order/notice during this time. According to the law, if the employee contests the validity or enforcement of the order/notice, the obligor shall give notice of the contest to,

    1. The CSE unit that issued the income withholding's.
    2. Each employer that has received the income assignment.
    3. The person designated to receive payments, or if none, to obligee.
    4. After July 1, 2003, may register the order in a Colorado court.
  40. If my company does business in another state and I receive an order/notice to withhold income for support from that state, am I required to honor it?

    Yes. If your company conducts business in another state and the agent for service in that state receives the order/notice, your company must honor the order/notice.

  41. Do I follow the income assignment laws of Colorado or the other state?

    You should follow the income assignment laws of the employee's principal state of employment. 14-14-111.5 (4.5) C.R.S. states "the obligor's principle state of employment shall be presumed to be Colorado unless there is a specific employment contract to the contrary."

  42. Will I be subject to civil liability for complying with an order/notice to withhold income for support? Issued in another state?

    No, there is no civil liability to you with regard to withholding child support from the obligor's income.