Colorado state legislators appear to be changing the law in an effort to help better ensure child support payments go directly towards the financial support of the children they are intended to benefit. Colorado's Senate Health and Human Services Committee approved a bill designed to meet these goals on January 22, 2015. The bill is designed to benefit families that receive additional financial assistance from the government by requiring any child support payments that are paid are given to the custodial parent, not to the government.

More on the bill

It may seem counterintuitive, but current state law requires that families receiving assistance through the Temporary Assistance for Needy Families program, also known as TANF and the Colorado Works Program, forfeit any child support payments they receive. Senator John Kefalas of Fort Collins has sponsored a bill that would change this practice and put the money back in the pockets of those who need it most: the children.

According to North Denver News, the bill is receiving vocal support from the Lutheran Advocacy Ministry, Colorado Catholic Conference, Bell Policy Center and The Denver Post editorial board. The bill, Senate Bill 15-012, could also lead to an increased rate of child support payments. The editorial board for The Denver Post argued that if parents were confident their money was going directly to their children instead of into government funds, they would be more willing to make child custody payments.

The board also argued that the bill could strengthen familial bonds. It is possible that children would find comfort knowing that both parents are working to provide support.

Impact of the bill

If approved, the act would become law on January 1, 2016. At that time, the child support funds discussed above would go directly to the families. Unfortunately, that means other programs would lose funding. Instead the bill provides for the other services that are losing funding to receive financial support from the state's general fund.

Although the bill has moved forward, it is important to note that it is not yet law. However, the bill's progression has sparked renewed interest in the conversation about the workings of the child support system in the state. It is important for those who are going through this process to be aware of the fact that the child support payment determination process is complex. The determination requires consideration of various factors, including:

  • The income of both parents and the financial needs of the child or children.
  • The amount of time each parent spends with the child, particularly overnights.
  • Payments made by each parent for education, daycare, medical insurance and certain other qualifying expenses. These payments can reduce the overall child support payment obligation.

Evidence submitted for the determination can impact the final support order. As a result, it is wise for those going through a divorce to seek the counsel of an experienced child support attorney to help better ensure a more favorable determination.