Mesa Child Support Attorney
Putting Children’s Needs First
Child support is not just the practice of providing children with economic assistance; it should also involve parents meeting their moral and ethical obligation to support their child’s physical, emotional, and psychological needs.
If you are filing for divorce and have a child with your spouse, child support is likely one of your greatest concerns moving forward. Whether you are the spouse who will be paying or receiving support, Edwards & Petersen | PLC and our child support lawyers in Mesa can make sure that the arrangement is fair and that it reflects your child’s best interests.
How Is Child Support Calculated in AZ?
Arizona has set forth guidelines used to calculate and award child support. Generally, support is paid by the non-custodial parent to the custodial parent. However, when both parents share custody and have the children at least 40% of the time, it can become more difficult to award support.
When determining child support payments, courts will consider:
- Each parent’s income
- The number of children that require support
- The cost of living and caring for the child
- Child support or alimony required under different court orders
- The child’s medical and education costs
- Transportation expenses
Enforcing Child Support Payments
Once a parent has been court-ordered to make child support payments, he/she has a legal obligation to obey. Failure to do so will trigger one of the many enforcement tactics available in the state of Arizona.
The Child Support Enforcement Program (CSE) was set up in 1975 and is part of the Social Security Act. When parents meet their child support payments, it reduces taxpayers’ burden, and various studies have shown that parents who are financially invested in their children tend to be more active in other areas.
What Happens When You Get Behind on Payments
Although there are a host of enforcement options, things get serious when parents reach a limit in terms of how far they are behind on their payments. In this case, a warrant for their arrest can be issued and their photo will appear on the Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) website’s ‘Wanted’ list.
How Far Behind in Child Support Before You Go to Jail in Arizona?
Once the parent that owes child support payments is behind 30 days, the parent with full custody may file a contempt petition. The parent responsible for paying is required to appear in court, and if they fail to do so, they are bound to be found in contempt and can see jail time and/or fines.
Arizona parents have an impressive array of options when it comes to enforcing child support, including:
- Wage garnishment: This is an order from a court or government agency that is sent to your employer, telling them to withhold the specified amount of money from your paycheck. The cash is sent directly to the creditor.
- Lien on personal property: If you owe child support, it is possible for someone to place a lien on your property.
- Lottery prize intercept: If you owe past-due child support and win more than $600 in the lottery, the amount you owe can be subtracted from the winnings and given to the custodial parent as child support. If you are in this situation, expect to receive a letter that explains the Child Support Program’s intention to take the money.
- Asset seizure: The child support office may be able to take your assets such as money in the bank, stocks, and bonds to ensure the child support payments are made.
- Arizona Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) Child Support Evader Program: The DCSS is required by law to come up with a process to publicly identify parents who are in arrears when it comes to their child support payments. The program involves displaying the pictures and profiles of parents who are delinquent in their payment of child support both in private and public locations.
- Credit bureau reporting: All support cases are reported to credit reporting agencies by the DCSS on a monthly basis due to federal legislation aligned with the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The credit report account will show the amount that must be paid monthly, the amount that is actually received, and any amounts that are past due.
- Federal Tax Refund Offset Program: This is a cooperative effort between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the Department of the Treasury’s Financial Management Service, and the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE).
- Passport denial: DCSS has a partnership with the U.S. State Department to prevent non-custodial parents who are in child support arrears from either obtaining a new passport or renewing an existing one.
- License suspension/revocation: While child support payments need to have been left unpaid for six months or more in order for a license suspension to be implemented in most states, a contempt order may be enough to trigger it in Arizona.
- Going to court: If the DCSS office is extremely busy, it could take a long time to have your matter sorted out. This is simply unacceptable for some families in real need of cash. A viable solution is to hire a private attorney to go to court and ask a family judge to quickly enforce a child support payment order.
Child Support Modification
In the event that the non-custodial parent’s circumstances change, he/she might be able to reduce the amount of child support owed. If there are other children/spouses, Arizona courts can only withhold up to 50% of the debtor’s disposable income; this rises to 60% if there are no other spouses/children.
Additionally, if a debtor has lost their income or becomes disabled and unable to work, their payments may be modified to take these changes into account.
Get the Support You Need
Throughout the United States, it is estimated that only 20% of owed child support is collected by all state agencies. Most experts believe people avoid paying child support simply because they don’t want to, not that they don’t have the money available. This suspicion is reinforced by research that concludes most people in child support debt are up-to-date when it comes to car and house payments.
Like almost every other state, Arizona is trying to find new ways to force non-custodial parents to pay their outstanding child support. As you can see above, there are several different ways to force people to pay, and this is just the tip of the iceberg. If you are owed a sizable amount of child support, contact the DCSS and get what is due to you. To speed things up, consider hiring a Mesa child support attorney who has experience with child support cases.
At Edwards & Petersen | PLC, we are happy to help parents obtain the financial support they need to properly care for their children.
Discuss your case with us today by calling (480) 418-5656.
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