Child Support Arrest Warrants

Can You Be Arrested for Failure to Appear at a Child Support Hearing?

Arizona family law judges are given the power to enforce child support orders, including the power to issue arrest warrants. It is rare that a judge in a non-criminal case issues an arrest warrant, but it can and does  happen. When writing the law allowing this, the state legislature showed how important child support is to the State of Arizona and to society in general.

Under Arizona statute section 25-502, the party receiving support for the child, or the judge, can file a motion requesting issuance of a child support arrest warrant if the judge determines the following conditions are met:

• The person who was supposed to be paying support in the past was ordered by the court to appear personally at a specific time and location;
• That person actually received notice of that order, which included a warning that a failure to appear might result in the issuance of a child support arrest warrant; and
• The person failed to appear as ordered.

If these conditions exist, the judicial officer may order that the court clerk issue the warrant. The warrant requires the named person be arrested,  be remanded to the custody of the sheriff, be brought before the judicial officer, or, if the judge is absent or unable to act, be brought to the nearest or most accessible judicial officer of the superior court in the same county.  The warrant remains in effect until it is executed or extinguished by the court. The warrant also spells out the amount the arrested person needs to pay to be released from custody. 

The amount of child support is based on state guidelines but can also reflect the cost of medical insurance, childcare, education expenses and the age of the child (due to increased expenses for those over age 12). If the paying parent feels he or she cannot pay the ordered amount, that person needs to try to convince the judge at the time the original support order is made or if circumstances have changed, ask that it be modified after the order was signed. Not appearing in court will not make the problem go away and will most likely have a negative effect on the situation.

If you are involved in a child support case, whether you are the one that should be receiving the support, or the one who has difficulty paying it, we may be able to help. Call the family law attorneys at Cohen Family Law in Phoenix, Arizona at (602)714-8898. Ask for your free consultation so we can talk about your case, the law and how it applies in your situation.