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A child support order includes a monthly payment from one parent to another. Child support helps to ensure that a child’s needs will still be taken care of when parents separate. In Arizona, every parent has the responsibility to continue supporting their child after a marriage, even when they are not the custodial parent. The state recognizes child support as a legal, financial, and moral obligation, therefore child support can and will be enforced if a parent fails to meet this obligation.
Here at The Valley Law Group, our team has extensive experience regarding child support and can assist with child support enforcement in the state of Arizona. Don’t hesitate to secure the help of our skilled attorneys to get the support you need for your child.
Arizona law assesses multiple factors when determining child support including:
The income of each parent is one of the primary aspects taken into consideration to determine child support payments in Arizona. If the parent paying child support brought in the bulk of the income for the family, their payments must ensure that the children’s needs are still properly met after the parents separate. Details, such as whether the home was previously a dual-income home, are also taken into consideration.
Because different ages require different types of care and pose different expenses, the age of the children involved also plays a major role in deciding the amount of the paying parent’s child support payment. For example, years ago, Arizona became one of few states that applied an “older child adjustment” to child support calculations. For every child that is involved in the divorce and is over the age of 12, the average estimate of expenditures increases 10%. This is to help with the extra expenses that come along with having older children in school and other activities.
The main role of child support payments is to make sure the children who are the result of the relationship are still taken care of and financially secure when it ends. With financial security for each child as the primary goal, non-custodial parents with more children will naturally face higher payments than those with fewer children to ensure that each of the children’s needs are still met. If you have over six children, an estimate is created by the state for average child support payments. It’s important to note that if you believe your family will require a larger child support payment than dictated by this estimate, you will need to make your case with Arizona family court.
As Arizona no longer recognizes the term “physical custody,” parenting time is used to describe the child’s living situation as well as the amount of time each parent will regularly spend with their children. This can be analyzed daily, weekly, or monthly. Parents must create a parenting plan according to state guidelines prior to divorce, and an Arizona family court judge will rule regarding whether parenting time will be shared equally, or whether one parent will retain most of the parenting responsibilities. Most of the time, a parent who has less parenting time will need to provide child support payments to cover the gap in financial responsibility.
Taking care of children can be expensive, which is why the courts also consider the average of monthly expenses per child when determining the best amount for a child support payment. The monthly expenses per child may differ depending on their age, shared parenting time, and more, as described above. If multiple children are involved, their monthly expenses will be assessed and a fair amount for each will be determined.
Because Arizona views child support as a legal obligation, the paying parent is legally bound to make payments. When the parent won’t cooperate with the child support order in place, fails to pay the full amount, or otherwise refuses to pay, they will face legal consequences via child support enforcement.
Child support enforcement is the act of going through the courts to have the non-paying parent’s actions assessed. If the court finds the parent in violation of the child support order, it can apply penalties and punishments to influence the parent to pay. Enforcement actions are made available to parents to ensure that the children involved are taken care of and payments are made on time. Once payments have been missed, the owed parent has the right to approach the court for child support enforcement.
If one parent refuses to pay child support, the parent receiving payments can file a petition to have their child support order enforced through the courts. Failure to comply with a child support order can result in charges of contempt of court, fines, asset seizure, or even jail time. If the courts find that the non-paying parent was purposefully ignoring the order, they can be found in contempt of court, a term used to describe willful disobedience of the court. All child support in arrears (past due) will then become due immediately. If the paying parent is not able to pay what they owe in child support, a wage garnishment order can be put in place to ensure payments will be made in the future.
Depending on the amount owed, the unique circumstances of the case, and the decision of the courts, non-paying parents may face:
Wage garnishment is the process of the court ordering a child support payment to be automatically deducted from the paying parent’s wages and is the most common way to enforce payment. Wage garnishment is monitored through the Arizona Support Payment Clearinghouse, which automatically receives the payments from the paying parent’s employers and then sends them to the receiving parent.
A court order will determine the total amount of child support payments that are owed, and an Order of Assignment will be issued accordingly to the paying parent’s employer. The Order of Assignment details the obligation of the paying parent, what they owe, and when the payments begin. Once the Order of Assignment is in place, the child support payments will be automatically deducted from the paying parent’s paycheck and sent to the Arizona Support Payment Clearinghouse. The receiving parent will have two ways to collect their child support payments: direct deposit or via support payment cards.
To have your child support order enforced, you should begin by hiring a professional attorney. When dealing with child support enforcement, having an attorney you can trust is critical. Aspects like filing a petition and navigating court proceedings can be much more difficult without an attorney who’s experienced in the process. An attorney will know the ins and outs of filing a petition and can help get you the payments your family needs.
When a parent has missed child support payments, they have violated a court order. Once you’ve secured the help of an attorney, you should file a petition with the Arizona courts. This must be done via the Arizona Department of Child Support Services or your local court. From there, the courts will assess the situation and determine which penalties and enforcement paths apply to your case.
After parents separate, child support payments play a significant role in the primary parent’s ability to financially support their children. If you are experiencing obstacles while attempting to obtain your child support payments, it may be time to seek child support enforcement.
Here at The Valley Law Group, we understand just how critical child support payments are to you and your family. That’s why our team is dedicated to helping parents navigate the court system to secure the child support payments they’re owed.
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