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Impact of Withholding a Child on Child Support in Arizona

Mon 6th Mar, 2017 Arizona Child Support Laws

Duty to Provide Financial Support for Children in Arizona

Each parent has a duty to provide financial support for minor children.

After a divorce, the parent with whom the child lives is entitled to child support from the other parent.

Can a mother get child support where the father wins custody, but she won’t give him the child? In Campbell v. Campbell, 617 P.2d 66 (Ariz. Ct. App. 1980) the Arizona Court of Appeals considered the issue of non-custodial parents seeking child support arrears.

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Impact of Wrongfully Withholding Custody of a Child on Child Support in Arizona

Mrs. Campbell and Mr. Campbell divorced in Arizona, and the court awarded Mr. Campbell custody. Nonetheless, Mrs. Campbell, who lived in California with the child, refused to return the child.

Mrs. Campbell then asked for child support under Arizona’s Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act (URESA). The trial court refused to award Mrs. Campbell child support because she was in violation of the court’s child custody order. Mrs. Campbell appealed.

Duty to Pay Child Support for a Child in Arizona

The Court of Appeals stated unequivocally that Mr. Campbell owes his child a duty of financial support. This continues despite Mrs. Campbell’s interference with his right to custody.

Mrs. Campbell’s Entitlement to URESA Remedies The Court considered whether Mrs. Campbell should be allowed to use URESA remedies when she did not have legal custody.

The URESA provisions allow a person having legal custody of a minor child to enforce the support obligation. They also authorize a state or political subdivision that has furnished support to the child to enforce the support obligation.

Here, the lower court dissolved Mrs. Campbell and Mr. Campbell’s marriage and awarded custody of the child to Mr. Campbell.

A Parent Cannot Collect Child Support if Wrongfully Withholding Custody of a Child From the Other Parent

Can Non-Custodial Parents Seek Child Support Arrearages in Arizona.

Under the language of the statute, Mrs. Campbell cannot invoke URESA remedies to get support for the minor child. In Arizona, the parental duty of support under Arizona’s Family Responsibility Act may be enforced via all civil and criminal remedies.

The remedies provided in URESA would be included within this broad language. However, the Court ruled that the availability of the URESA remedy was subject to the procedural safeguards in URESA.

Mrs. Campbell argues that the Arizona legislature intended to enforce duties of support for children in URESA proceedings without regard to interference with custody rights.

The Court said that this might be true for actions brought by a state providing support for the child. It may also be true if a parent having legal custody allegedly interferes with the other parent’s visitation rights.

But interference with custody by a noncustodial parent cannot create a duty of support payable to the interfering parent. Mrs. Campbell isn’t one of the parties who can enforce Mr. Campbell’s obligation under the circumstances of this case.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the lower court ruling.

If you have questions about non-custodial parents seeking support arrears in an Arizona divorce case, you should seriously consider contacting the attorneys at Hildebrand Law, PC. Our Arizona child support and family law attorneys have over 100 years of combined experience successfully representing clients in child support and family law cases.

Our family law firm has earned numerous awards such as US News and World Reports Best Arizona Family Law Firm, US News and World Report Best Divorce Attorneys, “Best of the Valley” by Arizona Foothills readers, and “Best Arizona Divorce Law Firms” by North Scottsdale Magazine.

Call us today at (480)305-8300 or reach out to us through our appointment scheduling form to schedule your personalized consultation and turn your Arizona child support or family law case around today.

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