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Overview of DCSS' role in child support cases

In Arizona, a child support case can be opened by the state's Division of Child Support Services for two reasons. If a custodial parent seeks aid from the Arizona Department of Economic Security, that parent also is obligated to seek child support from the non-custodial parent. Secondly, the custodial parent can submit an application to DCSS requesting child support from the non-custodial parent.

Once the non-custodial parent is located, if that parent is male, the child's paternity must be established. Then, the state formula found in the Arizona Child Support Guidelines is applied. The formula considers incomes and assets of both parents to determine the appropriate level of child support. An order of child support is issued, and the non-custodial parent is obligated to make the specified payments. In La Paz County, DCSS collected $1.12 million in child support payments in fiscal year 2013. Failure to pay the agreed-upon or court-ordered payments has consequences, including wage garnishment, confiscation of any federal tax refund, suspension of driver's license or even arrest.

It is important to note that the child support determination is not based on the parents' agreement or on fairness to either of the parents. Rather, child support is based on the child's needs. Because the obligation to support one's child is a matter of law and not contract, a judge can override any agreement the parents might make about the terms of the child support.

If a parent's circumstances change, then it is crucial that he consults an attorney immediately and files a request to modify the existing order. A federal law known as the Bradley Amendment bans retroactive modifications to a support order under most circumstances.

Source: The Bradley Amendment, Title 42 U.S. Code Section 666(a) 9(c)

Source: ParkerPioneer.net, "Child Support Division seeks to help kids", John Gutekunst, August 19, 2014

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