Jobless checks helping support Colorado child support

The Associated Press
Aspen, CO Colorado

DENVER ” The amount of child-support money in Colorado coming from unemployment checks has almost tripled during the first three months of the year.

The Denver Post reports that the state child-support system has collected $3.5 million from unemployment checks through March, compared to $1.26 million during the same time last year.

“What we’re seeing today is the new poor, the people who had regular income, paid their child support and who have now lost their income,” said Elizabeth Calvert, director of Denver’s child-support division.

The Colorado Department of Human Services says about $320.7 million was collected in 2008 from the state’s 141,000 child-support cases.

Child support payments drawn from unemployment checks in Denver increased from $219,970 the first four months of 2008, to $568,014 this year during the same months, the Post reported.

Calvert and John Bernhart, director of child support for the state Human Services Department, said they worry about what will happen once a parent’s unemployment benefits run out and they continue to not have a job.

Colorado residents are eligible to receive an additional 13 weeks of unemployment benefits because in February the state entered its third straight month with a jobless rate of 6 percent or more. The state’s unemployment rate is 7.5 percent.

Calvert said the law states that child-support payments can’t take up more than half of an unemployment check.

Joseph Bloch, an attorney at a law firm that represents fathers in divorce and child-support cases, said people can adjust their monthly payments if their income declines or increases by 10 percent or more.

“It’s really stressful for parties that have support orders that are not earning as much,” Bloch said.