Protect your rights with a Mesa, AZ child support lawyer with the experience needed to effectively fight for you, and to safeguard your child’s future. At JacksonWhite Family Law, we know the importance of regular emotional and financial support from both parents in a child’s life and believe that divorce shouldn’t keep any child from a happy, healthy way of life. Unfortunately, child support issues can impact the entire family in a negative way, whether the negotiated amount is insufficient, parties are not able to come to agreement over the terms, or one parent is neglecting to make court-ordered payments.
Nobody intends to end up as a deadbeat mom or dad, and nobody would knowingly choose to let their child suffer. However, tens of thousands of children end up in dire financial circumstances each year, often because a parent is unable to make regular payments. Rather than seeking help from the court, many parents simply stop paying once the terms have been violated, and a warrant has been issued, causing pain and suffering for the entire family.
In Arizona, child support services are managed by the state’s Department of Economic Security. The goals of the program are to ensure that children are financially supported by both parents, to offer families resources that help them to become self-reliant, and to reduce costs to the taxpayer.
What Is the Process for Establishing a Child Support Order?
The Department of Economic Security provides services to locate the noncustodial parent, if necessary, establish legal parentage through genetic testing, establish a child support order, and enforce the collection of payments through this order. This process begins when one parent fills out the Application for Child Support Services.
How Is Paternity Established?
The establishment of paternity provides certain rights for both the child and father in question. The father receives all legal rights afforded to a parent, while the child receives the right to support. If paternity is contested, the court will pay for genetic testing provided that the person in question pays back the cost of the tests if he is determined to be the father. In Arizona, the genetic test must show a 95 percent probability of paternity to be admissible in court. When the test identifies the father, a court order naming him as the legal father is granted.
If you have a child with a person, you are not married to and paternity is not contested, you should establish paternity either by filling out CS-127 Acknowledgment of Paternity form, available at the hospital when your child is born as well as at your local DCSS office.
How Is Child Support Calculated in Arizona?
The state calculates child support using the Arizona Child Support Guidelines, adopted by the state’s Supreme Court to ensure that children receive a fair share of both parents’ income and other resources. Based on these guidelines, the support amount is calculated using the Child Support Calculator, a spreadsheet that takes into account the gross (before tax) income of both parents; any spousal maintenance paid or received by either parent; court ordered child support paid or received for children from other relationships; the child’s medical, dental, vision insurance costs; education expenses; and parenting days per year. The calculator is available online. You can also download a PDF version of the Child Support Guidelines.
Can I Lower My Child Support Payments in Arizona?
Child support payments can be lowered in the case of any change within the household, including change in health insurance, job loss, disability, or a decrease in income for either parent. It can also be lowered if there has been a change in visitation or custody. To request to lower your child support, you must request a child support modification. Either parent can request a modification at any time.
How Can I Request Child Support Modification in Arizona?
Fill out the complete Request for Modification of Child Support packet, available for download, and drop it off or mail it to your local Arizona Department of Economic Security office. A review and modification can take up to six months depending on how quickly the necessary information is provided.
How Can I Pay Back Child Support in Arizona?
If you have a past due child support balance due to unforeseen economic circumstances, you may be eligible for the settlement program, which allows parents to pay off past due support. While the state does not advocate for a specific amount in the settlement agreement, they do help facilitate an agreement that provides a reasonable solution for all parties involved. Settling an arrears balance can help you become current on your child support obligation, halt the accrual of interest, modify wage withholding arrangements, and prevent credit bureau reporting and income tax refund seizure. You can learn more about the settlement program by calling the Arizona Department of Economic Security Customer Service Center at 602-252-4045.
How Can I Ensure I Have Access to My Child as the Noncustodial Parent?
While child support and visitation are separate issues in Arizona, the court has a vested interest in fostering the child’s relationship with both parents. The state’s Access and Visitation Program can help you and the other parent come to an agreement on visitation schedules and parenting plans with services including counseling, mediation, education, visitation monitoring, supervision, and enforcement, and other resources.
How Do I Legally Stop Child Support Payments in Arizona?
If you want to avoid paying child support because you suspect you may not be the biological father of the child in question, you can request genetic testing before the child is born from the state of Arizona. If you are determined to be the father, however, you will have to pay the state back for the cost of testing. If the child has already been born, the mother will have to establish paternity through the court in order to establish a support order. You are not liable to pay child support if you are not the child’s biological father; conversely, if you are the father, you are legally required to pay child support once an order has been established by the court.
If you are currently involved in a custody or child support dispute, a family law attorney can help you determine your rights and obligations so that you are able to support your child and be a part of his or her life, as well as avoid paying support to a child for whom you have not established paternity. You can also learn more from the official Arizona Child Support Services website.
Experienced Child Support Attorneys in Arizona
Minimize the conflict of divorce with the help of a knowledgeable & compassionate Arizona child support lawyer. At JacksonWhite Family Law, we take an aggressive approach to fighting for your rights, as well as for what’s in the best interest of any minor children. Whether you’re looking for an advocate in helping you get more manageable payments, can’t make your payments on time, or have a former spouse that has fallen behind on his or her obligations and left you in a difficult situation, we can help you resolve the issue quickly, quietly, and amicably.
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.