Arizona Child Support
Do you have questions regarding how long you have to pay child support in Arizona, how much child support your may be ordered to pay, or whether you can change the amount of child support previously ordered in your case? We want to provide you with comprehensive information answering all of these questions and more. Let’s start with the basics.
Arizona Revised Statute section 25-501(A) provides that every parent has a legal obligation to provide financial support for his or her children. Arizona Revised Statute section 1-215(19) provides that person is considered a child until the child is emancipated, which is defined as being eighteen years of age.
Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-502(B) requires that the original petition to establish child support be filed in the county where the child primarily resides. A parent may seek to modify child support whenever there is a substantial and continuing change in circumstances, such as a change in income or health insurance, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-503(E). That same statute provides that the modification of child support shall be effective on the first day following the month the petition to modify child support has been filed, unless the judge finds good cause to make the modification effective at a later date. The statute does not permit the court to modify the child support to a date preceding the date the petition to modify was filed.
Arizona law provides that child support end upon the child’s marriage, adoption, death, or the child reaching the age of eighteen, unless the child is in high school when he or she turns eighteen in which case child support shall continue until the child graduates high school or equivalent program but not beyond the child reaching the age of nineteen, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-503(O). However, child support can continue for a child who has reached the age of eighteen if the child has a severe disability that precludes that child from supporting himself or herself, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-320(E).
Arizona Child Support | Child Support Arrearages
An unpaid child support payment automatically becomes a judgment as a matter of law, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-503(I). The Arizona legislature also provided in the statute that there are no statute of limitations on the collection of unpaid child support except that a parent who waits ten years to attempt to collect child support must prove his or her delay in attempting to collect the child support was not unreasonable, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute Sections 25-503(J)&(K).
A parent owed support may file an affidavit with the court stating the amount of past due child support and a request for the court to issue a formal written judgment for past due child support. The parent must serve the other parent with the affidavit and request. The parent obligated to pay child support has twenty days to file an objection to the affidavit and request and request a hearing be set to determine the amount of child support owed. If no response is filed, the court will issue a formal written judgment for past due child support.
Arizona Child Support | Wage Assignment
An Arizona judge is required to issue a Wage Assignment, which is similar but not the same as a garnishment, ordering an employer to deduct child support directly from the parent’s paycheck, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-504. The same statute allows a party who is owed child support and/or spousal maintenance to file an ex parte order of assignment for current child support, other support, spousal maintenance, spousal maintenance arrears, and interest accrued on unpaid support. The person whose employer has been served with an ex parte order of assignment may request a hearing on the order, but there are very limited objections that may be used to support such an objection.
The person obligated to pay child support is required, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-504(K), to notify the clerk of the court or the Support Payment Clearinghouse of any change to his or her residential address or change of employment within ten days of any changes of address or employment. Failure to do so permits the court to hold that person in contempt for not doing so.
A person may file a motion to terminate an order of assignment within ninety days of the ending date for the support award, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-504(M) and must serve that notice on the other parent. The other parent may file a request for hearing within twenty days if they reside in Arizona or thirty days if they reside outside Arizona objecting to the termination of the order of assignment in which case the court will schedule a hearing. If no objection is filed, the court will automatically order the termination of the wage assignment effective on the date the support order is scheduled to end.
It is important to know what wage assignments for support take precedence over all other civil garnishments that may have been served upon a parent’s employer, pursuant to Arizona Revised Statute Section 25-504(P). The statute also prohibits an employer from firing an employee because Wage Assignment has been served upon the employer. An employer who does so is subject to being held in contempt of court, paying damages, and paying the attorney fees of the affected parties.
If you have a question about child custody in Arizona, please call to speak to one of our experienced Scottsdale and Phoenix Arizona child custody attorneys at (480)305-8300.