In recent posts, we have discussed various issues related to child support in Colorado. For instance, we have discussed the basic procedure for how child support amounts are determined. One issue which we see quite often relates to how child support money is spent by the recipient parent. In this post, we will discuss this topic in a bit of detail.
Demanding an Accounting is a Common Issue
In many cases, child support amounts can be quite substantial. Understandably, many parents who pay child support often ask the question: is my ex-spouse spending the funds appropriately? This is a very common concern among child support payors. Child support recipients – i.e. parents with primary physical custody, or primary “parenting time” – are supposed to spend support funds on necessities for the child (food, clothing, recreation, etc.). The law in Colorado essentially operates on the presumption that child support recipients will use the funds appropriately. For this reason, Colorado does not require an annual accounting report or another type of report to ensure or verify that support funds are spent appropriately. But, given how widespread this concern is among parents, the law of Colorado recognizes that the demand for an accounting of child support funds is a legitimate concern.
Colorado Law Recognizes Parental Demands for Accounting
In some cases, a parent may have actual evidence that the child support recipient is using support funds inappropriately. For instance, they may have evidence that the recipient has been using the funds to gamble. In other cases, the payor parent may simply have a hunch or suspicion that funds are not being used correctly. The law of Colorado provides an outlet for these concerns. Under Colo. Rev. Stat. Ann. §14-10-115(14)(b), a parent may request the services of a mediator in order to resolve any claims regarding inappropriate child support spending. The costs for such a mediation hearing will fall on the parent requesting the mediation. This helps to prevent frivolous claims, which can be frequent. In some cases, a payor parent may want to request a hearing simply out of spite toward the recipient parent. If the mediator determines that the recipient parent is in fact spending support funds inappropriately, then the matter can be referred to the court for a remedy.
Importantly, although Colorado law provides an outlet for concerns regarding support spending, this doesn’t mean that the requesting parent is entitled to an accounting of the spending. All that the law provides is that the requesting parent be entitled to a mediation hearing to determine whether a claim of inappropriate spending has merit. Additionally, this provision regarding a mediation hearing for inappropriate spending is closely linked to requests for updated financial information from the recipient parent. Payor parents often want to see updated financial information from recipient parents in order to adjust child support amounts. Colorado law allows parents to request such an update, but it also imposes certain conditions on these requests. For instance, the requesting parent must be actively exercising his or her parenting time rights, and cannot be currently in arrears on child support payments.
The bottom line is that Colorado law does indeed recognize and understand the concern that parents have regarding child support spending. Sometimes, recipient parents misspend funds. This is precisely why the law has been crafted to facilitate a fair inquiry on these concerns. But parents are not entitled to an accounting for their own private investigation, although an accounting may be ordered to resolve a claim at mediation.