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While child support is your child’s right and should be one of your highest financial priorities, it’s fair to say that nobody particularly enjoys paying child support. It’s tough to have a significant portion of your paycheck withheld every week, especially when you’re struggling to pay your bills and support a new family. Even if you can easily afford child support, you’re probably looking forward to the day that your child support obligation is fulfilled.
But what actually happens when your child support obligation is fulfilled? Is the income withholding order automatically terminated, or does the parent need to do anything to halt future paycheck deductions?
The good news is that in Arizona, most income withholding orders issued by the court include a presumptive termination date. As long as you don’t have any child support payments in arrears (i.e. unpaid child support), your employer should stop withholding child support payments after the termination date.
However, some older income withholding orders may not include a presumptive termination date. You may even have an issue where your employer misses the termination date and mistakenly continues to withhold child support payments after your obligation is fulfilled. In either case, you may need to file a Request to Stop an Income Withholding Order and work with the Arizona Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) to collect overpaid child support.
How to Stop Child Support in Arizona When Both Parents Agree
If your child support income withholding order doesn’t contain a presumptive termination date, you’ll need to file a Request to Stop an Income Withholding Order with the county court. Once approved by the court, you can submit the order to your employer to halt the income withholding.
There are two types of Stop Income Withholding Orders — one for situations where both parties agree, and one for situations where one party disagrees. To stop an income withholding order when both parties agree, the following conditions must apply:
- All parties must sign the Agreement to Stop the Income Withholding Order (and Support Order) in front of a Clerk of the Court or a Notary
- If DCSS was involved in the child support case, a representative from the agency must also sign the agreement
- The non-custodial parent does not owe any more money under the child support order, or the child support obligation will end within 90 days of filing the agreement
- The non-custodial parent doesn’t owe any child support arrears or spousal maintenance arrears
In most cases, the primary reason for ending child support is because the child in question has turned 18 and graduated high school. However, there are some circumstances where both parties agree to terminate the child support agreement before the child reaches adulthood. Such reasons include:
- The parents have remarried each other
- The child has been legally adopted, and any past-due child support amounts are satisfied
- The child support case has been dismissed
- The court has changed the Legal Decision Making (custody) order
- The parent or child is deceased
In any case, filing a Request to Stop an Income Withholding Order carries an $84 filing fee. If the filer is the respondent and it’s their first appearance in the case, there may be an appearance fee, too. That said, you can request a fee waiver or deferral if you qualify.
How to Stop Child Support in Arizona When One Parent Disagrees
When the previously mentioned conditions are met but one party still disagrees with the motion to stop the child support payments, the non-custodial parent must file a Stop Income Withholding Order Petition. The filer will then need to serve the petition to the other party, at which point he or she may request a hearing to object.
Keep in mind that the disagreeing party may not be one of the parents — it could be the State of Arizona if DCSS refuses to sign a Stop Income Withholding Order Agreement. In any case, whether the disagreeing party is your former spouse or DCSS, you’ll want to work with an experienced family law attorney to defend your case for stopping the income withholding order.
Related Topics and Questions
Arizona Income Withholding Form
We’ve been talking about how to stop an income withholding order, but what about requesting an income withholding order? The process is actually similar to how you’d go about stopping a child support order when one party disagrees.
First, you’ll need to file the proper court papers to request an Ex Parte Income Withholding Order. After filing the documents with the court, you’ll need to serve a copy of the petition to the other interested parties (i.e. the other parent and DCSS, if the state is involved in your child support case). At that point, the other parties have the right to request a court hearing to object, or they can consent to the court order.
How Does Child Support Work in Arizona if The Father Has No Job?
This is a challenging question, as it entirely depends on why the father doesn’t have a job. In Arizona, child support payments are calculated in part on the parent’s full earning capacity — not just their current income — so it’s entirely possible for an unemployed father to have child support payments.
Arizona’s Child Support Guidelines indicate that a parent who is unemployed or working below their full earning potential may still be required to pay child support if their earnings are reduced voluntarily or for unreasonable cause. For example, a father who quits a good job for no valid reason and doesn’t actively seek new employment may be viewed as voluntarily reducing his earnings. He will likely still be required to pay child support, even if he applies to modify the child support order.
On the other hand, a father who is under-employed and quits his job to obtain a degree or certification which will benefit him and, by extension, his children, is technically unemployed but for good reason. The court may still require some child support, perhaps based on a portion of student loans, savings, or part-time income, but it will likely modify the child support order to reflect lower payments until the father graduates school and finds a job.
What to Do When Court Ordered Child Support is Not Being Paid in Arizona?
When dealing with unpaid child support, it’s best to work with Arizona DCSS to enforce the child support order. Under federal, state, and local child support laws, DCSS has a number of enforcement remedies at its disposal, including:
- Seizing state and federal income tax returns
- Garnishing wages
- Seizing property
- Placing a lien on property
- Suspending state and professional licenses
- Jail time