Child Support: The Compound-Interest Debt That (Almost) Never Goes Away

Child Support Collection in Colorado

Question: If a parent owes $250.00 per month in child support and does not pay for 17 years, how much is owed at the end of 17 years?

Answer: In Colorado, about $175,000.00.

The issue of unpaid child support and unsupported children is an important issue in the United States. Over the years, most states have made it virtually impossible to avoid owing the support, have enacted laws to enforce payment and made it difficult for the debt to just fade away with the passage of time. Colorado is one of these states.

Child Support Debt and the Compound Interest

In general, a debt not pursued is a debt that cannot be recovered. There are time limits on how long a person can wait before asserting their right to the debt. For example, money owed on a promissory note cannot be collected after six years have passed. This is called a statute of limitation. Besides the six-year time limit, other arguments can block the enforcement of the debt much sooner than six years.

With child support, the rules are different. In Colorado, as soon as the child support is owed and not paid, it becomes the equivalent of a money judgment. A judgment is good for twenty years. So, twenty years after the child support is owed, it can still be collected, with interest compounded at 12%, annually. For those of you that don’t know, the eighth wonder of the world is compound interest.

How to Pursue Child Support Debt Owed in Colorado

Even if the parent owing the child leaves Colorado, the debt follows the parent. Most states have enacted some version of the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act. The Act will typically honor the law of the state where the support order was entered. So, a Colorado child support debt can usually be pursued for at least twenty years.

Owing the child support is one thing. Collecting that debt can still be difficult. However, due to the compounding nature of this debt, many lawyers are now looking toward child support collection as a major source of revenue. As seen from the example above, a $250 monthly obligation can grow into almost $200,000.00 dollars. As you can imagine, with that kind of money on the table, the lawyers are interested.

With modern technology, a $200.00 investment in investigation fees can quickly reveal where the obligor parent lives and what they own. Under the right circumstances, the obligor parent can face a little jail time in order to loosen up the purse strings.

So, if you are owed child support, do not give up. Consider tracking down the parent and collecting what is due.

2 replies
  1. Lynn
    Lynn says:

    My ex husband currently owes $5707.49 in arrears “before compounded interest on a support order that was last modified on 10/6/08. How can I find out the exact amount of interest owed, and what can I do to collect this money? He is facing contempt on 7/20/09, where the arrears will likely be reduced to judgment. CSE is involved, but seem to be very lax with enforcement and collection.

  2. Alexia
    Alexia says:

    My friend pays faithfully child support every month, but there was a time, some years ago when he was in hospital so he couldn’t keep paying for 3 months.
    Now he wants to travel to another country and his passport is being denied. How is it possible? I know the law is meant to protect the child, but he never meant to stop paying, he wasnt making any money when he was in hospital. His ex wife does not want him to leave the country fearing he would stop paying child support, and I consider that unfair.
    Is there any way he can get his passport?
    Thanks a lot


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