Whether a child is born after a short-lived affair or in a marriage that later fails, the law expects parents to commit to supporting their children regardless of custody and visitation rights. Unfortunately, many parents neglect their responsibility, especially after a divorce or a legal separation. In Arizona and across the United States, there is a growing number of noncustodial parents, especially fathers, who owe millions in child custody. Accordingly, Arizona has put measures to obtain child support arrears from such parents through back child support laws.
Back Child Support Orders
Where a court directs the payment of child support, it might use a retroactive child support order backdating child support arrears to the date of filing a dissolution of marriage or legal separation. Besides entitling custodial parents to outstanding child support in back child support, the law also provides several ways for its enforcement.
As the custodial parent, back child support laws entitles you to child support dating back to the date of marriage dissolution or legal separation. However, where you and the other parent were living apart before the date of filing for divorce or legal separation, the back child support order may not apply if you had lived apart for more than three years.
In deciding to enforce back child support, the court must consider prevailing circumstances, including the motivation behind filing for child support and whether the other parent has made any efforts to pay child support in the past. The court will use relevant guidelines to decide on the amount of child support and the manner of the payments.
Filing Back Child Support in Arizona
A custodial parent can file back child support anytime during the legal separation or marriage dissolution or after establishing a child’s paternity. The Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) assists parents with such requests, including providing the necessary forms for filing.
A caseworker or a family attorney can assist you in filing the paperwork while helping you follow up with the court process until the other parent pays child support. The back child support order in Arizona lasts up to ten years, but you can apply for more time where necessary.
Consequences of Failing to Pay Child Support in Arizona
Following an application and the issuance of a back child support order, the government of Arizona will seek to enforce payment through different strategies, including
- penalizing the noncustodial parent for the arrears or late payment
- involving the owing parent’s employer, including wage garnishment requests
- credit bureau reporting
- seizing of property
- seizing of state tax refunds
- the placing of a lien on their property
- suspension of licenses
- contempt of court motions
Besides these consequences from the state, the owing parent also risks consequences on the federal level, including withholding of social security and other federal benefits. The federal government can also deduct salaries for owing parents who are their employees. The owing parent can also have their passport application denied as an enforcement strategy.
Contact a Tucson Back Child Support Lawyer
Despite the many enforcement strategies, including working with other states to force owing parents to pay child support, millions of child support payments are still in arrears. In some cases, the owing parent is experiencing financial difficulties and is not in a position to honor their obligations.
While the state and the federal government have put in place measures to enforce back child support orders, you might need a family attorney’s help to enforce such court orders. Similarly, if you are an owing parent but can’t fulfill your obligations due to financial difficulties, an attorney can also help you petition the court to adjust the child support requirements.
At RPM law, our skilled Tucson family law attorneys are experienced at facilitating the enforcement of back child support orders and will help you collect outstanding child support. Contact us today to schedule a free consultation on all your child support needs and to learn more about our services.