Child support is crucial for the health and welfare of children in Arizona. Contrary to what some parents think, divorce does not absolve a parent of their financial responsibilities to a child. It is a considerable problem in Arizona. That is why Arizona courts are stepping up their efforts to pursue “deadbeat” parents. In Arizona, there is no statute of limitations on child support arrears and there are numerous mechanisms to collect payment.
The Scope of the Problem
In 2018, nearly $310 million in child support payments were distributed in Arizona. However, 164,000 parents still owe more than $1.6 billion in arrears. Since 2015, the number of parents in arrears has declined by 8%, and the amount owed has dropped by 5%. These declines are due in large part to enhanced enforcement of court ordered child support in Arizona.
Accurate Accounting Is Crucial When Pursuing Arrears
It is vital to present an accurate accounting of the arrears owed to you from the non-custodial parent. Your accounting should include any interest accrued and additional expenses such as credit card interest, loan interest, etc., resulting from the non-custodial parent’s failure to pay child support.
Your accounting should also include a record of attempts to collect these payments. The more thorough your records, the better. Detailed records establish that the non-custodial parent is willfully evading payment of court ordered child support. They also show the financial hardships that are a direct result of the non-custodial parent’s refusal to pay.
Options for Collecting Payment
Judges in Arizona actively pursue non-custodial parents who refuse to pay child support and they have broad discretion on which consequences to pursue. They can order garnishment of bank accounts and income. The court can intercept tax returns and other payments. The court can issue a warrant for the individual’s arrest, or suspend their driver’s license or professional license. They may use a combination of these penalties to achieve compliance with child support orders.
Possibilities for Reduced Support and Settlement
Arizona allows non-custodial parents to negotiate for a reduction in the amount of child support they must pay. When the non-custodial parent requests a reduction, the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) will work to negotiate a new agreement with both the non-custodial and custodial parent. If both parents reach a settlement agreement, it goes to the court for approval. If the court approves, then the non-custodial parent will settle the arrears agreed to and pay future child support according to the new agreement. It is worth noting that custodial parents are not obligated to settle for less than the amount owed.
Waiving child support arrears in Arizona is not common and the courts rarely grant these requests. This is true whether it is owed to the state or directly to the custodial parent. Such a request requires proving extreme financial hardship. More often, the court will provide the non-custodial parent a period of time to pay the amount in arrears. They may also issue a new child support order based upon the non-custodial parent’s current income. Further, when the court grants the non-custodial parent time to pay, they will almost always have to pay interest on the arrears which is currently set at 10% per year starting in the month that the payment lapsed.
The Simon Law Group, PLLC can help you pursue child support arrears in Arizona. We invite you to contact our family lawyers at (480) 745-2450 to schedule a free consultation. We are happy to go over your case with you and discuss the possible strategies for collecting the child support you depend on.