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Child support in Arizona, like in any other state, is often filled with hostility and entitlement . This hostility usually is because the parent responsible for payments thinks that it is too much money or the custodial parent thinks that it isn’t enough. Whether you like it or not, once the child support amount is set by the court or signed and agreed upon in a legal binding document, this will be the amount required to be paid each month. This is why it is so important that you work with a family law attorney during this process.
What is Child Support Arrears and What Causes It?
Arrears is defined as “money that is owed that should have been paid earlier”, so in a child support case this refers to either payments that were missed or payments that were not paid on purpose. While these are two possible ways that payments fail to happen, the reasoning behind them varies.
One of the most common reasons that this happens is because as the child gets older the amount of money that the child requires decreases. Maybe the child got a job and started paying for a lot of their own expenses, or maybe they simply don’t require as much money to be taken of. This can cause the parent responsible for payments to believe that they can be more relaxed with their payments, making less than the monthly total they have been paying or even skipping some months all together. This couldn’t be farther from the truth.
Just because the financial needs of the child has changed doesn’t mean the amount of child support changes.
Another one of the most common reasons that people fail to pay their child support is because they disagree with the amount of money that the judge ruled they have to pay. Instead of following the contract they are legally bound to they make smaller payments than required or just don’t make the payments at all. This is also a mistake.
There is No Avoiding Child Support Payments
Child support is taken extremely serious in Arizona, families rely on this money as part of their monthly income and even missing one payment can cause a lot of harm. Since child support is a legally binding contract, there is no way to avoid paying it. The consequences of not paying or missing payments can cause the parent responsible to owe even more money than before.
To some people this doesn’t matter. They can increase the amount of child support all they want, but that still won’t get them to pay it. The Arizona state legislature has already thought about this scenario and has other means in which they can get you to make the payments.
A judge can do the following if you are not paying your child support:
- Apply a bank account garnishment
- Put a lien on your home
- Suspend your drivers license and/or any professional license
- Put a warrant out for your arrest
Interest Charges on Child Support Arrears
Another motivator for a parent to make their child support payments on time is that a state can charge interest for payments that go in to arrears. Different states have different laws about what they charge and when interest will take place. In Arizona if your child support payments get put in to arrears then you will be charged 10% per annum (each year), starting the month after the payment was missed.
ARS 25-510 defines the laws associated with child support interest in Arizona.
Who Gets the Interest on Child Support Arrears?
If interest is being paid while the child is under the age of 18 there is no confusion, all of the remaining child support and the interest that has accumulated is to be paid to the custodial parent. But, who gets the interest on child support arrears when the child turns 18? The custodial parent does.
This is a common question, typically among parents that are responsible for making the child support payments. The reason being because the parent responsible for child support payments would prefer to wait until the child turned 18, then just pay them what they owe in child support and interest directly. Thus, not giving any money to the custodial parent.
Arizona law makers have deemed that such an act would be unfair to the custodial parent. Since the child support agreement was made to help the custodial parent pay for the expenses of raising the child, it would make no sense to give that money directly to the child, even after they are 18 years old. The agreement is between the two parents, not a parent and the child.
Get Help With Your Child Support Needs
One of the biggest mistakes custodial parents make when filing for child support is that they believe they don’t need to work with an attorney during this process. Reasons for doing so vary, but typically this is because the parent wants to avoid paying the fees associated with working with an attorney. As a firm that has helped dozens of Arizona families with their child support nears over the past 30 years, we guarantee that the benefits of working with an attorney far out-weigh the costs.