Not getting paid? How do you Enforce your Maintenance Agreement?
Enforce Maintenance in Colorado
Individuals may wonder what power they have to enforce their maintenance agreement once their divorce is final?
Your maintenance agreement is part of the Court order that finalizes your divorce. When a Court order is not followed, the Court has broad powers to enforce that order. Given the circumstances of your case there are a number of options to assure that maintenance is paid in accordance with the Court order.
In some cases, a wage assignment can be done at the time your divorce becomes final. If a wage assignment is part of the Court’s Support Order, a Notice to Withhold Income for Support is sent to the employer of the party owing maintenance and the funds will come directly out of their paycheck to the party receiving maintenance.
Another option at the time of divorce is to participate in the Family Support Registry. This can be done through agreement of the parties or through an order of the Court. The purpose of the Family Support Registry is to monitor child support and maintenance payments. The party paying maintenance sends their payments to the Family Support Registry. The Registry then records the payment and sends the maintenance payment amount to the party receiving maintenance. If there is a problem with payment down the line, the Family Support Registry will report out on the payment history. This record will be taken as evidence by the court and presumed to be accurate.
Options for Enforcing Maintenance in Colorado
If maintenance payments are not paid in accordance with the Court order then there are a number of options. Which option is best depends on the circumstances of your case.
- Support Judgment: You may file a Verified Entry of Support with the Court to show that the party paying maintenance has not complied with the Support Order. The Court will then file a Support Judgment that gives you the power to garnish the opposing party’s wages and/or bank accounts. The Support Order can also include interest on the delinquent funds owed as well as attorney’s fees for having to enforce the Order.
- Contempt of Court: Another option is to bring a Motion for Contempt. The Court will set up a Contempt Hearing where it is expected that both parties will be present. At the Hearing, the Court will take evidence on payment or non-payment of maintenance. The Court can also ask questions to discover what financial resources are available for payments. The Court also has the power to garnish accounts or wages and may impose punitive damages including jail time for non-payment of child support. The Court can award interest on delinquent payments as well as attorney’s fees. The Court can also order that all future payments be done through wage assignment. Attorney’s fees are only awarded if no punitive sanctions are imposed. A Contempt Hearing is a quasi-criminal proceeding.
- Negotiation: In some cases there is a possibility that by bringing an attorney into the process that you may be able to work with the opposing party to resume payments and deal effectively with delinquent payments.