When you decide to have a child, it is your lifetime responsibility to provide and care for their well-being. This responsibility does not end if you divorce. Even though you are no longer married, you are still a parent. Most parents want to support their children, and it is not an issue. However, in certain circumstances, a parent either refuses or is unable to make child support payments. Under Arizona law, there are several consequences for failure to pay child support.
When you divorce and have children, your divorce decree should include a legal agreement regarding child support payments. This means a failure to pay child support is a violation of a court order. In fact, it is a crime under Arizona law. If the violation of the court order is not rectified, the guilty party could face charges of a Class VI felony. Additionally, the amount owed for child support continues to be owed along with accrued interest.
Division of Child Support Services
The Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) is the Arizona agency that enforces the payment of child support. The party failing to make the child support payments will be notified in advance of any action the DCSS may take against them. A few actions the DCSS may take to collect child support payments include:
• Wage garnishment
• Seizure of certain personal property
• Suspending your professional license (including your driver’s license)
• Placing liens against your property
• Contempt of court charges (fines and jail time possible)
• Reporting the child support payment as debt on your credit report
Inability to Pay
What if the party not paying child support has fallen on hard times and cannot afford the payment? The court allows a party in this situation to seek a modification of the child support payment amount. We all understand that certain circumstances are out of our control, and you cannot pay what you do not have. This does not mean you are a bad parent. However, you cannot simply ignore the court order and hope it goes away. It is critical to seek a modification of the order to avoid the legal consequences of non-payment.
2 Types of Modification Procedures
Arizona has two types of child support modification procedures:
1. Simplified Modification
The simplified modification procedure is a good option if the amount of the support payment is likely to be altered by 15% or more from the existing order amount. A petition for modification is filed, and a hearing can be scheduled if the other parent wants it.
2. Standard Modification
The standard modification procedure involves scheduling a conference (or hearing) to determine the change in circumstances supporting the modification request. You should work with an experienced child support attorney to file the necessary paperwork and ensure all deadlines are met.
Your Arizona Family Law Attorneys
As you can tell, the legal principles and court procedures behind child support matters can be complex and hard to navigate alone. That’s why we’re here to help. We can set up a consultation to hear your story and guide you through the process. Our offices are conveniently located across the Phoenix Metroplex with a location sure to be near you.
Interested in learning more? Check out this page to read much more about Arizona child support.