Table of Contents
In December of 2016, the Arizona Court of Appeals reviewed and rendered a decision regarding, among other things, what happens when a parent overpays child support in the case of Allen v. Allen. Judge Staring authored the opinion for the Court, in which Presiding Judge Howard and Judge Espinosa concurred.
Mrs. Allen and Mr. Allen married in 2011 and had a child in April 2012. Mr. Allen suffered a stroke in December 2012 and subsequently began receiving long-term disability (LTD) payments through his employer-sponsored plan. Mr. Allen also received social security disability income.
Mrs. Allen filed for divorce in May 2013. A consent decree was issued in April 2014. In January 2015, Mr. Allen petitioned for modification of child support and pursued an order for Mrs. Allen to apply for Dependent Social Security Disability (DSSD) for the child based on Mr. Allen’s disability. Mr. Allen also requested a modification of his support payments based on any change to his income as a result of DSSD.
Mr. Allen claimed that the availability of DSSD reduced the number of his LTD’s benefits, and had caused him to be perceived as having received overpayments that he was now required to return to the LTD insurer.
Subsequently, Mr. Allen requested an order requiring Mrs. Allen to reimburse the insurer for support Mr. Allen paid using his LTD benefits. Mrs. Allen applied for and received DSSD benefits on behalf of their child. She also received a retroactive DSSD payment of $14,200 that covered the period of May 2014 to April 2015.
After the lump sum, Mrs. Allen also began receiving $1,195 in DSSD benefits for each month starting in May 2015. Mrs. Allen argued that Mr. Allen’s duplicate payment was a nonrefundable overpayment under the Arizona Child Support Guidelines (Guideline 26(B)), and also that federal law prohibited transferring the DSSD lump sum she received to Mr. Allen or the LTD insurer.
Mr. Allen asserts the Guidelines entitled him to credits for both DSSD and the support he paid using his funds, and demanded an immediate transfer of the DSSD payment to allow him to repay the LTD insurer.
The trial court agreed that Mrs. Allen had been “enriched with the overpayments” and that there was “a flaw in the policy”, but it had no authority to order Mrs. Allen to transfer the lump sum payment to Mr. Allen. The court denied Mr. Allen any credit of the $14,200 payment but terminated child support nunc pro tunc to October 2015. The court also entered a judgment against Mrs. Allen for five months of duplicate payments Mr. Allen had made after monthly DSSD benefits began. Mr. Allen appealed.
Decisions and Discussion
Mr. Allen’s appeal was based on three issues, specifically:
- He alleged the trial court erred by not crediting him for the lump-sum payment, according to Arizona Child Support Guideline section 26(B)
- He argued the trial court erred in granting judgment for reimbursement of five monthly overpayments when the total was six months;
- He argued the trial court erred in terminating rather than modifying his support requirement
The Court agreed with the trial court’s conclusion that it lacked authority to order the transfer of the lump sum payment to Mr. Allen or the LTD insurer. However, Mr. Allen argued that he was entitled to credit for both his payments and the DSSD the child received as a result of Mr. Allen’s disability.
The trial court denied consideration for the lump-sum payment that duplicated Mr. Allen’s support obligation concluding that “it had no choice.” However, the Court on appeal determined that the trial court misapplied Guideline 26(B) which required each month of DSSD be applied to Mr. Allen’s support obligation for the same month.
Accordingly and according to Guideline 26(B)(3), Mr. Allen was responsible for paying the small monthly difference leaving the majority of his payments as credit available to be applied to future support obligations or reimbursed.
The Court reversed the trial court’s denial of credit for Mr. Allen’s support payments.
The court of first instance concluded that Mr. Allen was entitled to a judgment for duplicate monthly payments and provided him with credit for both his payments and the child’s DSSD benefits per section 26 of the Child Support Guidelines.
The decision to credit Mr. Allen for five months of duplicate payments (May 2015-October 2015) despite finding six were overpaid was inaccurate. The trial court should have credited Mr. Allen for six months of overpayment of child support.
The Court’s remand necessitates the trial court to establish the appropriate solution for Mr. Allen. Guideline 20(A) provides a court to support an order that “deviates” from the Guidelines and order a different amount of child support “after considering all relevant factors” and “concluding certain specific criteria have been met.”
The trial court must make written findings that “application of the guidelines is inappropriate or unjust” and “that deviation is consistent with the child’s best interests.”
The Court concludes that in such circumstances a “court might adjust an obligor’s support obligations, require reimbursement of the duplicative payments from funds that are discrete from the benefits…permitted under applicable federal statutes and regulations.”
Therefore, it was concluded by the Court that the issuance of a judgment and order for Mr. Allen’s repayment are permissible provided the trial court makes required findings. One relevant factor in the case may include the fact that Mrs. Allen was warned she might have to reimburse Mr. Allen for support payments duplicated by DSSD.
Termination of Support
The statute and the Guidelines control the extent of child support. This means support is mandatory until the child is emancipated or reaches the age of majority.
Mr. Allen argued at trial that support should be continued and not terminated so that any DSSD benefit payments over his recalculated monthly support could be applied to his share of the child’s medical expenses for the same month.
Further, the continuation of the child support order is necessary to manage the parent’s shared responsibility of paying for medical expenses and claiming tax exemptions consistent with the Guidelines. The Court concluded the trial court erred by terminating support rather than recalculating the amount.
If you have questions about overpayment of child support 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.
Other Articles About Child Support in Arizona
- ARIZONA CHILD SUPPORT LAWS
- ARIZONA UNIFORM INTERSTATE FAMILY SUPPORT ACT (UIFSA) STATUTES
- ATTRIBUTING INCOME FOR CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- DIVIDING UNCOVERED MEDICAL EXPENSES IN AN ARIZONA CHILD SUPPORT CASE
- THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHILD SUPPORT AND DEBTS IN ARIZONA
- THE DEFINITIVE GUIDE TO CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- DUE PROCESS REQUIRES NOTICE OF A CHILD SUPPORT MODIFICATION
- CHILD SUPPORT DEVIATION IN ARIZONA
- IS AN INCREASE IN INCOME CAUSE TO MODIFY CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- CHILD SUPPORT AND ASSETS IN ARIZONA
- EFFECT OF EMPLOYMENT BENEFITS ON CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- EFFECT OF STOCK OPTIONS ON CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- MODIFYING CHILD SUPPORT FROM ANOTHER STATE IN ARIZONA
- CHILD SUPPORT MUST BE MODIFIED WHENEVER CHILD CUSTODY ORDERS CHANGE IN ARIZONA
- REGISTERING A CHILD SUPPORT ORDER IN ARIZONA
- BURDEN OF PROOF FOR A DEVIATION IN CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- REIMBURSEMENT FOR OVERPAID CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- GIFTS AND FREE RENT MAY BE INCOME FOR CHILD SUPPORT PURPOSES
- COURT DISCRETION TO ADD RECURRING GIFTS AS INCOME FOR CHILD SUPPORT
- CHILD SUPPORT AND THE NARCISSIST PARENT
- INCLUDING INCOME FROM A SECOND JOB IN ARIZONA CHILD SUPPORT CALCULATIONS
- STANDARD OF PROOF TO ESTABLISH A WAIVER OF PAST CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- CHILD SUPPORT CANNOT BE A PERCENTAGE OF A PARENT’S INCOME IN ARIZONA
- WHAT IS A WAGE ASSIGNMENT IN ARIZONA
- THE AGE WHEN CHILD SUPPORT ENDS IN ARIZONA
- SSDI PAYMENTS OFFSET MEDICAL EXPENSES FOR A CHILD IN ARIZONA
- MODIFYING CHILD SUPPORT WHEN NEITHER PARENT LIVES IN ARIZONA
- HOW TO MODIFY OR ENFORCE A CHILD SUPPORT ORDER ISSUED IN ANOTHER STATE
- HOW TO MAKE ARIZONA CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS
- HOW IS INCOME CALCULATED FOR CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- HOW TO ENFORCE A CHILD SUPPORT ORDER IN ARIZONA
- WHAT IS CONSIDERED GROSS INCOME FOR ARIZONA CHILD SUPPORT
- CALCULATING A PARENT’S INCOME FOR CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- ERRORS IN REGISTERING A CHILD SUPPORT ORDER FROM ANOTHER STATE IN ARIZONA
- DOMESTICATING A CHILD SUPPORT ORDER IN ARIZONA
- CHILD SUPPORT AND AN UNEMPLOYED PARENT IN ARIZONA
- WHAT DOCTORS SHOULD KNOW ABOUT CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- CAN A NON-CUSTODIAL PARENT RECEIVE CHILDREN’S SOCIAL SECURITY BENEFITS IN ARIZONA
- START DATE FOR TEMPORARY SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- EFFECT OF DENIAL OF VISITATION ON CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS IN ARIZONA
- ARIZONA CHILD SUPPORT FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
- EFFECT OF ERRORS IN REGISTERING A CHILD SUPPORT ORDER FROM ANOTHER STATE IN ARIZONA
- WHEN YOU CAN MODIFY CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- GIFT INCOME AND MODIFICATION OF CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- WAIVER OF PAST CHILD SUPPORT BY AGREEMENT IN ARIZONA
- UPWARD DEVIATION IN CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- MODIFYING A CHILD SUPPORT ORDER FROM ANOTHER COUNTRY
- OBJECTION TO CHILD SUPPORT ARREARS IN UIFSA DOMESTICATION IN ARIZONA
- CAN A SPOUSE’S INCOME BE CONSIDERED FOR CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- LEGAL METHODS OF COLLECTING CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS IN ARIZONA
- ENFORCEMENT OF A FOREIGN COUNTRY CHILD SUPPORT ORDER IN ARIZONA
- DRIVERS LICENSE RESTRICTIONS FOR UNPAID CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- CAN A LOAN BE INCLUDED AS INCOME FOR CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- PAST DUE SUPPORT PAYMENTS APPLY FIRST TO CHILD SUPPORT BEFORE ALIMONY
- CALCULATING CHILD SUPPORT WITH SPLIT CUSTODY OF CHILDREN IN ARIZONA
- EFFECT OF DELAY IN COLLECTING CHILD SUPPORT ARREARAGES IN ARIZONA
- RECOVERING CHILD SUPPORT NOT ORDERED IN A DIVORCE DECREE IN ARIZONA
- LEGAL OPTIONS FOR COLLECTING CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS IN ARIZONA
- ARIZONA COURT’S AUTHORITY TO HEAR CHILD SUPPORT ENFORCEMENT ACTIONS
- IMPACT OF WITHHOLDING A CHILD ON CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- SISTER STATE’S RIGHT TO MODIFY ARIZONA CHILD SUPPORT RULING
- IS A CHILD SUPPORT ORDER VOID IF IT DOES NOT MENTION ARREARS IN ARIZONA
- CHILD SUPPORT OBLIGATIONS OF A MINOR IN ARIZONA
- TIME LIMIT TO COLLECT CHILD SUPPORT ARREARAGES IN ARIZONA
- RETROACTIVE MODIFICATION OF A CHILD SUPPORT ORDER IN ARIZONA
- CONTEMPT OF COURT FOR UNPAID CHILD SUPPORT ARREARAGES IN ARIZONA
- SUPPORT FOR DISABLED ADULT CHILDREN IN ARIZONA
- CALCULATING INCOME FOR CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- THREE YEAR LIMITATION FOR COLLECTING CHILD SUPPORT ARREARAGES
- DISMISSING MODIFICATION OF CHILD SUPPORT FOR NOT DISCLOSING FINANCIAL DOCUMENTS
- ARIZONA CHILD SUPPORT MODIFICATIONS MUST INCLUDE ANY CHANGES IN PARENTING TIME
- EQUITABLE DEFENSES TO FAMILY SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
- AFFIDAVIT OF CHILD SUPPORT ARREARS FROM ANOTHER STATE IN ARIZONA
- PERSONAL JURISDICTION AND CHILD SUPPORT ARREARAGES IN ARIZONA
- PERSONAL JURISDICTION OVER A NON-RESIDENT IN AN ARIZONA CHILD SUPPORT CASE
- ARIZONA CRIMINAL LAW FOR NON-PAYMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT IS CONSTITUTIONAL
- BURDEN OF PROOF IN A MODIFICATION OF CHILD SUPPORT CASE IN ARIZONA
- FULL FAITH AND CREDIT CLAUSE REQUIRES PERSONAL JURISDICTION TO ENFORCE SUPPORT ORDERS
- CHILD SUPPORT IN A BANK ACCOUNT IS EXEMPT FROM EXECUTION BY CREDITORS
- NON-PARENT LAWSUIT FOR REIMBURSEMENT OF CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA
As Seen on CBS News, ABC News, NBC News, and Fox News