Arizona family law firms, including DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC, often are asked questions pertaining to child support. Child support is designed to ensure every child’s basic needs are met. Whether parents were married or not, both have an obligation to ensure their child’s financial security. When child support is ordered by the court, parents should be aware the amount of support is determined by child support guidelines which are imposed by Arizona’s statutory law.
These guidelines provide guidance to the court by taking into consideration the income and expenses of each parent. In cases where the parents share custody, the amount of time which each parent physically has the child may also be taken into consideration. It is important to understand that guidelines are simply guidance: the court may increase or decrease the amount the non-custodial parent pays depending on specific circumstances including health needs, special day care arrangements and more. When one parent has a substantial increase or decrease in the amount they are earning, child support may also be adjusted accordingly. However, knowing all of this information will not address the concerns some parents have when they fall behind on child support payments.
Risks Associated With Non-Compliance of Child Support Orders
When the court orders child support payments, they may be ordered to be paid weekly or monthly. When the order is violated by not making the payments, there are various steps the courts may take in order to ensure the child is being properly supported. Some of the steps may include ordering the non-paying parent to appear in court, assessing a penalty for not paying including a 10 percent interest rate, and when necessary, ordering the wages of the person paying to be garnished.
None of these steps happen overnight which often means there are past due child support payments. During the time the parent fails to pay the past-due amounts, there will be interest accruing on the past due amount. The payer, is typically obligated to make regular payments until such time as the child in question reaches the age of majority, or graduates from high school, generally, this means until they are 18 or 19. There may also be circumstances, such as in the case of a child with special needs, where the support payments must be paid indefinitely. However, the child turning 18 or 19 does not free you from the obligation of past-due payments. This always raises the question about what happens to the past-due amounts of child support which were unpaid.
Steps Which Can Be Taken to Enforce Child Support Orders
In most cases of unpaid child support, Arizona’s Department of Child Support Services (DCSS) who has numerous legal tools at their disposal to collect child support payments which are owed. While a parent who is supposed to pay child support has the option of requesting a hearing to appeal a decision once they have been notified that DCSS is pursuing collection, some of the steps which may be taken should they lose that appeal include:
- Income Withholding Order (IWO) – the use of this order applies to current as well as past-due amounts of child support. This order allows for DCSS to have funds withheld from paychecks and issued to DCSS.
- State Income Tax Refund Offset – anyone who owed $50 or more in past due child support payments may have their Arizona state income tax diverted for the purposes of reducing arrears. It is worth noting a person who owes child support may also be in jeopardy of losing their federal income tax refund.
- Seizure of Assets – anyone who has outstanding child support debt may be subject to having their assets seized. This may include, but is not limited to bank accounts including savings accounts and any stock, bond or mutual fund holdings.
- Credit Bureau Reporting – past due child support payments can and are reported to the major credit bureaus. Any payments which are in arrears for six months or more are reported as collection accounts and will remain on a credit report until such time as the payments are brought current.
- Passport Renewals – anyone who has child support arrears in excess of $2,500 may face challenges renewing a passport.
- Professional Licensing – any person who has a professional license which requires renewal may face challenges if they have past due child support payments. Licenses may also be suspended at the discretion of DCSS.
- National New Hire Directory – many people are unaware there is a federal new hire directory. DCSS can use this directory to locate parents who have fallen behind in their child support payments to enforce child support orders.
- Home Liens – any person who owes back child support and sells real estate could have the portion of the sale which is owed in child support seized from the proceeds.
- Backup Income – those who owe child support and are eligible to collect disability or unemployment insurance may find DCSS has seized funds to pay arrears.
As you can see, there are several legal options available to collect past due child support which makes it nearly impossible to ignore.
No Escape From Past Due Child Support
When a person fails to make timely child support payments, the family law firm of DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC is often asked to assist in obtaining these payments on behalf of the party who was owed the payments. We are fully aware the longer these payments remain outstanding, the more challenging it becomes to collect the payments. The parent who is responsible for making payments is also facing a debt which continues to grow which makes them more likely to avoid paying them in the future. What many people do not understand is unlike consumer debt which remains uncollected, child support payments are not subject to Arizona’s statutes of limitations.
What this means is if the person who owes child support files for bankruptcy they still will be responsible for making the past-due payments, regardless of the amount owed. If the parent who is entitled to the payments was successful in securing an Arizona judgment, the judgment never goes away either.
Contact The Phoenix Child Support Attorneys at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC
When you are facing child support issues, the right attorney can make all the difference. Protect your rights and contact an Arizona child support attorney at DeShon Laraye Pullen PLC to schedule an initial consultation. Call our offices today at (602) 252-1968 or (480) 524-1540.