How Child Support is Enforced in Arizona

A parent who is subject to a child support order must make payments on time and in full until the obligation ends. In Arizona, that end point is usually when the child reaches 19 years of age. If the obligated parent fails to make support payments, the parent entitled to receive the payments on behalf of the child can take steps to enforce the order.

In most instances, the custodial parent will start the enforcement process by contacting the Arizona Department of Child Support Services. The DCSS will notify the delinquent parent that a collection action has been initiated, at which time that parent can request a hearing. If the hearing goes against the delinquent parent, or if that parent fails to appear, the DCSS can take any of the following actions:

  • Withholding income — The DCSS can issue income withholding orders (IWOs), which allow money to be taken directly from the delinquent parent’s income, worker’s compensation, unemployment or retirement benefits. The withheld funds are paid directly to DCSS, which in turn pays the custodial parent. An IWO can be used to collect both current and past-due child support.
  • State tax refund offset — If the delinquent parent is set to receive a state income tax refund, the DCSS can intercept it and have the funds sent to the custodial parent. Federal income tax refunds can also be redirected, but court involvement may be necessary.
  • Asset seizure — When a delinquent parent owes 12 months or more of child support, the DCSS can seize his or her bank accounts, stocks or other property.
  • License suspension or revocation — If a parent is at least six months behind in child support payments, the DCSS can have that parent’s professional licenses suspended without going to court. The DCSS can also request a driver’s license suspension, but it requires court involvement.
  • Liens on property — The DCSS can place liens on cars or homes owned by the delinquent parent, preventing the sale of these items until the child support is paid.
  • National new hire directory — The DCSS can use this federal directory, which collects hiring data from state agencies, to locate parents who owe child support.

Arizona courts can also enforce child support using these methods. Courts have one additional power that the DCSS does not: holding the noncustodial parent in contempt. The parent must be at least 30 days delinquent in order for a contempt proceeding to be commenced. The delinquent parent must receive notice of the proceeding and be told when and where to appear in court. If the court finds a parent in contempt, the parent can face fines or jail time.

Whether you are seeking to enforce child support or need to oppose an enforcement action, the attorneys at Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. can help. We are highly experienced in these cases and will protect your rights. To schedule a consultation with our Scottsdale, Arizona firm, please call 602-789-3497 or contact us online today.