What Are Child Support Arrears?

Divorce marks the legal end of a marriage. It does not mark the end of any support obligations a parent has to a child. Contrary to how many may act, divorce does not end a parent’s financial responsibility to provide for a child. In fact, child support payments are often critical to foster and preserve the health and well-being of children. Despite this, however, many parents, for a variety of reasons, fall behind or simply stop paying child support.

What Are Child Support Arrears? 

When a parent has a court-ordered child support obligation and fails to pay it, this is what is known as “child support arrears.” More specifically, child support arrears is the precise amount of child support owed by a parent but that the parent has failed to pay. It should be noted, however, that there are a variety of ways to collect payment on child support arrears. Furthermore, Arizona does not have a statute of limitations on child support arrears collection actions.

When you are owed child support arrears, it is important to keep records accounting for the failed payments. Keep records about how much was due and how much was paid, or not paid. Also be sure to note any interest accrued or additional expenses, such as credit card interest, that resulted from the failure to pay child support. Thorough records will help support collection efforts being initiated. Detailed records can also support a claim that the payor parent is willfully evading payment of court-ordered child support. Furthermore, these records can demonstrate any financial hardships that have resulted from failure to pay.

Arizona judges maintain broad discretion in determining which collection efforts are appropriate when a parent is in child support arrears. For instance, a court may order the interception of tax refunds or other payments intended for the obligor parent. A court may even go so far as to issue a warrant for the obligor parent’s arrest or suspend his or her driver’s license or professional license. A combination of multiple kinds of collection efforts may also be employed to ensure compliance with child support obligations.

Should an obligor parent find that child support payments have become unmanageable for one reason or another, he or she may request a reduction in the payment obligation from the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). DCSS will work with the parent to establish a new, more workable agreement with the custodial and non-custodial parent regarding the child support obligation amount. Should an agreement be reached, it will go to court for approval. Upon court approval, the non-custodial parent will settle the child support arrears agreed to and prepare to make future child support payments according to the terms of the new agreement.

Family Law Attorney

Having difficulty with child support payments? Consult with the knowledgeable attorneys at Cohen Family Law is here to help. We can counsel you on your options and how to proceed. Contact us today.