When couples with offspring separate, the biggest problems they face usually have to do with custody and child support. It can be very frustrating to not get the child support you are owed. At the same time, it can be very difficult to pay more child support than you think you should pay.

Who Needs to Pay Child Support?

If one parent is the custodial parent, they are owed child support by the non-custodial parent. Even if both parents have joint custody over a child, it does not mean that there is no child support order because, under Arizona law, each parent is still responsible for their portion of the Total Child Support Obligation, which is the financial support that parents are required to provide for their child. The court or the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS), depending on who petition for a child support order, will take the custody arrangement into consideration, but they will still look at other factors and come up with a child support figure.

How Can I Petition for Child Support?

In Arizona, you can file for child support either through the court or through the DCSS. Generally, you will want to file for child support through the court if you are seeking child support as part of divorce proceedings or a custody battle. If you file through the Division of Child Support Services, you will need to know the other parent’s full legal name and nicknames, address, date of birth, social security number, name and address of any current or former employer, income information, a physical description or photo of the other parent, and the make, model, and year of car used by the parent. You might not have all that information but the more information you can provide the faster your case can be processed.

What Can Happen If I Do Not Pay Child Support?

Needless to say, if you are ordered to pay child support, you should make your best effort to pay it, even if you are contesting the amount in court. By not paying child support, you can face a lot of consequences. The state may take part or all of your tax return. DCSS can also garnish your wages to ensure that your child support obligations are being met. Your credit might be affected because nonpayment may be reported to the credit bureaus. Bank accounts or other property you have can be taken or have a lien placed on them by court order. If you are 6 months past due on child support payment, Arizona might revoke your driver’s license.

The court can also get involved in a more direct way if you are behind in child support.  You could be found in contempt of court for failing to adhere to the child support order and fined or jailed. Also, the state can prosecute you for failing to pay.

What If the Other Parent Denies Me Visitation for Nonpayment?

Child support and visitation are totally separate orders. So, you cannot be denied visitation if you are behind on child support. If the other parent is not letting you see your child because they are trying to get you to pay child support, you can ask the court to enforce the visitation order. In this situation, you should keep records of when you tried to visit, when you were denied visitation, and how often this has happened.

How Can I Stop Paying Child Support?

If you want to stop paying child support, you have to do it through the court so that the order requiring you to pay can be legally invalidated, or you will face severe consequences. When parents are not married, the mother must to establish paternity before seeking child support from the father. You may not ever have to pay child support if you were unmarried and can establish from the beginning that you were not the father. Proving that you are not the biological father of a child can be done even after an initial court order for child support has been issued.

You and the other parent can also agree to end child support, but you will need to go to court to get approval. Otherwise, child support in Arizona ends the last day of the month the child turns 18. If the child is still in high school, then it does not end until the child graduates or turns 19.

Where Can I Find the Right Lawyer?

An Arizona child support lawyer can be immensely helpful in navigating the child support process. Since this is such an important legal issue, you should be very careful choosing the right lawyer.