Non-custodial parents in Arizona are $1.7 billion in debt for child support arrears. Recent investigations discovered flaws in Arizona’s system for collecting child support from non-custodial parents. The head of the state agency with the daunting task of helping custodial parents collect unpaid child support admits the process is not working up to its potential. There are approximately 144,000 cases in Arizona with delinquent or unpaid child support.

One custodial mother has been fighting in court to collect child support with no good fortune since 2007. The process is slow. In this case, the non-custodial father claims that he cannot pay what he does not have. Many non-custodial parents experiencing job loss have abandoned the will to pay or get caught up on what they owe their children.

An order to pay child support is most often one that can last for many years and is typically due each month. These payments can be a major negotiating hurdle in many Arizona divorces and separations. Often the parent with whom the child resides primarily will receive child support payments from their former spouse.

Arizona residents may be interested to learn about a recent case where a man was held to be responsible for child support payments for children that were conceived after the relationship with his ex-spouse ended. The young twins were born using a donated egg. Prior to the end of their relationship, the couple had arranged to be placed on a waiting list for donated eggs. After separation, the eggs became available, and the father agreed to allow in-vitro to be used for conception.

Phoenix and Scottsdale readers may be surprised to learn that our neighboring county leads the entire country in child support enforcement and collection. Over the past two years, more than $10 million has been collected by the child support division of the Gila County attorney. The county is just one of four Arizona counties that handle their own child support collections, whereas all the others make use of the office of the state attorney general. However, on at least one occasion, the state attorney general’s office transferred one of its difficult collection matters to Gila County for help in finding a missing parent. Within a month, caseworkers had not only found the individual but obtained a court order, served the legal papers and successfully arranged for the parent to appear in court.

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