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Caring parents get no satisfaction from an inability to care for their children financially. On the contrary, they want to make sure that their children have the things in life they need to be successful. However, life has a way of interfering with those goals and that fear of being unable to provide for their children becomes a reality.
When a parent finds themselves in a difficult financial situation, child support payments may go into arrears. This means that interest will be compounded and added to the regular payments. The longer that the payment is overdue, the higher amount of child support arrears could occur.
The purpose of this article by the family law team at Colburn Hinzte Maletta is to help parents get those late payments waived or reduced. It demonstrates how missed and delayed payments can negatively impact your life. While it will not address all the scenarios of what can happen in child support matters, it will address the most common ones.
What is the Legal Definition of Arizona Child Support?
Child support is financial aid given from one parent to another to help care for their minor children. When parents separate or divorce, the parent who has the physical primary care of the child is the custodial parent. The other parent is designated as the non-custodial parent. However, they are both responsible for the financial well-being of their minor child. The non-custodial parent may be required to make payments through the court system, which is referred to as child support.
Child support divides financial responsibility among the parents and varies according to state laws. The state of Arizona requires both parents to offer “reasonable support” to their minor child.
While the parent with primary custody may be in charge of paying for the child’s daily expenses, the other parent must still provide timely payments, typically monthly. Arrangements regarding physical custody and financial payments are spelled out in court agreements.
How are Child Support Payments Used?
Child support payments can be used for the material needs of the child such as food, school-related expenses, education, day-care, medical bills, and housing.
Payments can also be used for entertainment purposes such as toys and other miscellaneous child-related items.
How are Child Support Payment Amounts Calculated?
Child support amounts vary from state to state. For example, in Arizona, child support is proportionate to the parents’ gross pay from all sources of income. Using a Schedule of Basic Support Obligations, the state also takes into account the child’s medical bills, childcare expenses, and the cost of education.
Determining the right amount of child support a parent is obligated to make and negotiating with the other party can be complicated. Such are the reasons that many parents enlist the help of experienced child support lawyers.
7 Common Types of Child Support Arrears?
The term child support arrears refers to unpaid payments, of which there are two types: assigned and unassigned.
1. Assigned Child Support Arrears
Assigned Child Support (ACS) arrears accrue when the non-custodial parent fails to fulfill his/her obligation during the time that the custodial parent is on public assistance. In this situation, the non-custodial parent owes money to the state as opposed to the custodial parent since the government is supporting their child.
While child support arrears could wreak havoc for the non-custodial parent in this position, some states will negotiate their debts and offer affordable repayment plans.
2. Unassigned Child Support Arrears
Unassigned Child Support (UCS) arrears refer to the past-due payments a non-custodial parent owes directly to the primary custodial one. In this circumstance, the government will not receive any money from back payments.
Furthermore, these payments don’t have to be made if the primary custodial parent agrees to cancel them. Later in the article, we will show you how to get arrears waived.
3. Why Do Non-Custodial Parents Fall Behind on Child Support Payments?
Unfortunately, circumstances change. Situations out of one’s control can occur and cause a direct hit to a person’s wallet. Despite a parent’s desire to do more to support their children, their reality won’t allow for it. Below we offer some of the biggest reasons why parents cannot keep up with their financial obligations to their children.
4. Loss of Employment/Job
Losing a job is one of the primary reasons parents fall behind on payments. It stands to reason that if a parent has no income, he or she may stop paying child support.
5. A Reduction in Pay
Having a job alone does not guarantee one’s ability to afford child support. If the non-custodial parent gets demoted or starts a new, lower-paying job, it may inhibit his or her ability to satisfy child support obligations. Thus, both parties must revisit the guidelines outlined in the agreement to mitigate child support arrears.
6. Sickness/Medical Condition
A medical condition that prevents the non-custodial parent from working could certainly impact his or her ability to pay. If the parent’s illness is chronic and requires a lot of time away from work, a reduction in income is possible. At the same time, his or her medical expenses could increase, thus exacerbating their inability to fulfill their obligation to their child.
7. Ballooned Arrears
When a payment is late, it accrues interest in some states just like credit card debt. And interest rates for child support arrearages vary from state to state with some being more lenient than others.
States like Colorado, Kentucky, and Washington impose an annual interest rate of twelve percent, while Arizona adds on an interest rate of ten percent per year.
What are the Penalties for Parents Who Don’t Make Child Support Payments?
Debt.org has highlighted some of the penalties for parents who stop paying child support. The domino effect of such demonstrates the severity of what lagging behind on child support can do. It’s not pretty.
1. A Bad Credit Score
The government permits credit agencies to make your debt public, and they do. This may directly impact your ability to secure a loan. Even if you are approved for one, the terms may not be favorable.
2. Loss of a Driver’s License
Not only might you be unable to get a car loan, but your driver’s license could be suspended. In this case, you could be required to become current on your obligations before getting it back.
3. Wage Garnishments
The amount of your take-home pay could be taken out of your hand. The government can garnish wages or seize tax returns for those who stop paying child support.
4. Jail Term
Among the most severe penalties is incarceration. Since the courts mandate child support payments, accumulating a hefty child support debt could land you in jail until you can pay a portion or all of your past-due child support.
8 Ways How to Get Your Child Support Arrears Waived
Arrears are money that is overdue to be paid; typically refers to child support or alimony that has not been paid on time.</span> <hr /> ”>
1. Communicate with Your Co-Parent
As soon as you see trouble brewing, contact your co-parent and explain why you can no longer make the payments as agreed. Ask that parent if he or she would consent to revised terms so you could fulfill your obligations.
2. Create a New Written Agreement
Together, with your competent family lawyers, craft a revised agreement with your co-parent. The lawyers will help you avoid mistakes and ensure that the document is ready for the next step.
3. File the New Agreement with the court
Remember to include the explanations as to why you would like to revise the agreement.
4. See What the Court Decides
The court’s job is to seek the best interests of the child, therefore, there is no guarantee that the court will sign off on the revised agreement. The judge may sign off on the agreement or may make modifications to the agreement.
5. Tweak the Agreement and Re-file
In cases where the court did not approve the revised agreement, both sides can continue negotiating until each is satisfied. This is the important step where assigned child support arrears are waived.
6. Enter Waiver Negotiations with the State
Here, your main task is to convince the government that your current agreement is unsustainable. With your lawyer’s help, continue negotiating until you get the assigned arrears waived or reduced.
7. Inform Your Co-Parent
Make sure to keep your co-parent informed about the steps you’re taking to waive or reduce your arrears. While evaluating your request, the court may communicate with your co-parent, and the information they obtain could influence the outcome.
8. Follow the Court’s Conditions
The court may require you to meet certain conditions to have your debt waived or reduced. Understand those conditions and follow them as best you can.
An Arizona Child Support Lawyer on Your Side
Navigating the complicated world of child support with all its potential implications for your life should best be left to the experts. For your peace of mind, it’s best to partner with an Arizona family law attorney who has experience regarding these complex cases.
Work with us at CHM Law and we will do everything in our power to secure the best agreement for you, your co-parent, and your children.
The first step is to give us a call and set up a free consultation where we will go over all of the necessary documents and form an effective plan of action. Quite often, the timing of the filing is integral to your matter. Do not delay in contacting us!
Call us now at (602) 825-2500.
Attorney Darin Colburn has experienced first-hand just how difficult going through a family law matter such as divorce is when his parents divorced when he was 6 years old. Twenty years later, he has devoted his entire legal career to helping those facing similar issues. Darin attended the University of Arizona and graduated Cum Laude from the Eller College of Management. Darin is an experienced trial attorney that excels in high-net-worth divorce, complex business valuations, and messy child custody disputes.
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Before I hired Darin I went through a total of 3 different attorneys in two different states fighting a jurisdiction battle, when my daughter was taken to a different state. It was a very difficult decision to switch attorneys at one of the most difficult, time sensitive and important times in my case, but I’m very glad I did. Upon receiving my file from previous attorneys Darin came very familiar with my case quickly. Like other people have explained he took the time to lay everything out and explain how the process was going to proceed and what to expect and continued to do this as new issues arrived. He is also very quick at responding to emails and phone calls. My case was getting close to trial as told by my previous attorneys, I did not want to go to trial as I know this is very costly (most attorneys will convince you that you need to.) Darin knew my situation, fought for what was right and got the results I wanted while avoiding a costly trial. He is extremely knowledgeable in the Child Support Guidelines as well. Because of Darin I got my daughter back. I would highly recommend him and would hire again for any future issues. Thanks Darin!
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