In Arizona, there are a number of ways in which you can remove the child support order. In most of the cases, the order will continue until the child reaches the legal age where it may stop (18 years old). The state of Arizona firmly believes that both parents have a responsibility to care for their children. There are many procedures in place at the State and Federal level to encourage the support to continue.
How to Remove a Child Support Order: The Process
The parent paying the support files a petition with the court indicating the age of the child. This information is then provided to the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). The DCSS notifies the custodial parent of the closure of the case 60 days before the last payment. In 60 days, the case closes and the fees stop. However, if there are arrears, the case remains open until the arrears and the associated fines are fully paid.
If you happen to overpay due to a failure to make the notification on time or due to a clerical error, you may have to petition to have the funds returned to you, once the date of cessation for child support has been officially recognized.
In Arizona, child support is paid by law until the child is 18 years old or if the child is still in high school. The payment is made until the last day of the month in which the child turns 18. In most court orders, the date when payments will stop is noted. But the noncustodial parent still needs to file a petition with the court to indicate the age of the child as turning 18.
However, if the child has a disability, payments can go on for much longer. Although the DCSS will most likely have the information when the child support will be ended, it is prudent to notify them that the support is no longer required at least 60 days before the child turns 18.
Child support payments may also stop if both the parents agree and the original court order is amended. This rarely happens though. Only the custodial parent may request to close the case and the request must be in writing.
If the custodial parent is receiving funds from the state for assistance or medical aid, the DCSS legally is required to keep the case open, even if the parent agrees to close it. All arrears must be paid up to date, and the custodial parent must not be receiving any funding before the case can be closed.
Non-custodial Parent is Imprisoned or Institutionalized
If the noncustodial parent is imprisoned and will remain so until the child turns 18, the DCSS will close the case. If the noncustodial parent has a disability, which prevents him or her from earning a living, then the DCSS will close the case. But the severity of the impairment must be verified. If the noncustodial parent is released from prison or is no longer disabled, the case will remain open.
If the Child Changes Residency
If your child starts living with the noncustodial parent, you should go to court to request a change in the child support order. It is likely that the support will be reduced (for partial living status) or you may receive support from the other parent if your child is living with you full time.
If you lose your job and it is beyond your power to obtain another job, and you think you could qualify for relief, then you need to start proceedings for petitioning the court to modify the child support immediately.
The circumstances of the job loss must be significant. Perhaps you were injured severely, or are now suffering from a disability that prohibits you from working. If you delay in acting, the child support will continue and the courts may not be able to excuse the payments retroactively.
For some families, the child support situation is bleak. Support payments have mounted beyond any reasonable means of payment. Month after month the amount increases and the fines are calculated. There seems to be no incentive to make the payments because the financial situation of the noncustodial parent is overwhelming.
The Arizona state has recognized this unfortunate circumstance and is willing to provide a “hand up” in these cases. The settlement program presents a check to the custodial parent to cover the overdue support payments and the associated fines. Now, the noncustodial parent is responsible for the current monthly support payments.
You could think of it as starting over again with no repercussions from the past. With all of the fees that are now up to date, all of the incentives to encourage payment are stopped. Licenses can be renewed, and the credit rating of the noncustodial parent can be restored to name a few.
The program aims to assist needy families with a means of meeting their financial obligations. In the past, the sanctions were not working due to the dire economic circumstances. The sanctions were ineffectual because the noncustodial parent had no means to change the conditions to rectify the situation.
If a non-custodial parent wants to be considered for the program, he or she has to get in touch with the DCSS to request an interview. After an investigation, the DCSS will determine if the parent is a candidate.
Change the Amount of Child Support
There are some situations in which you may wish to reduce the amount of child support instead of removing the child support order.
If circumstances change from when the court order was issued, which would result in a 15% difference in the amount, both parents have the right to petition the court to have the amount changed. A review of your current status will take place, and the court will decide whether the support payment can be decreased due to the altered circumstances.
Note that a loss of a job does not automatically apply if there is an ability to find another job. Bankruptcy does not qualify either. In both of these circumstances, the arrears and associated fines will continue to mount.
A review of the amount can also take place after 3 years from the date the payments started. By law, the DCSS must conduct an investigation every three years for families receiving Temporary Assistance for Needy Families. (TANF)
If there is a significant change in the amount of money need by the child, support payments may be reduced. These circumstances may include daycare costs or change in medical expenses.
Depending on the circumstances, it is possible to remove the child support order. If you are in financial difficulty, consider reducing the amount or applying for the settlement program.
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.