Child Support Enforcement in Arizona

If your child’s other parent is not paying his or her child support, Arizona law offers several enforcement remedies. Even if the other parent is undergoing financial difficulties, that does not mean they can stop paying child support. Under Arizona law, child support supersedes any other type of debt.

The Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) is responsible for many enforcement actions, but must notify the parents prior to enforcement. This official notice includes information on requesting an administrative review by the non-paying parent to dispute any action.

Wage Assignment

A wage assignment is the easiest way for the parent payor to meet his or her child support obligations. The court issues an Order of Assignment to the payor’s employer to withhold the monthly support payment from the payor’s paycheck. The employer is then responsible for sending this amount to the Support Payment Clearinghouse (SPC), which sends a check to the payee parent. Should the payor find other employment, he or she must give the new employer a copy of the wage assignment, and notify the SPC and the Clerk of the Superior Court of the new employer’s name and address.

Parent payors who are self-employed or unemployed cannot use wage assignment. They must make payments directly to the SPC. Payments are never sent directly to the other parent. Any such payments to the other parent are not necessarily considered child support, but fall into the category of “gifts” by the court.

Enforcement Action

If a parent has not been paying child support, the DCSS has various child support enforcement methods, depending on the amount owed and the length of time support is in arrears. These include:

  • Property Liens and Asset Seizure –If the payor owns real estate or motor vehicles, the DCSS may put on a lien on the property if child support is at least two months in arrears. When child support is at least one year in arrears, the DCSS can seize assets owned by the payor to pay the debt, including bank and brokerage accounts, mutual funds and monies held in other types of financial institutions, The DCSS can also send withholding orders to collect child support from the payor’s insurance and/or estate settlements, lottery winnings, commissions and similar income sources. Both Arizona and federal law permit the DCSS to access tax refunds for back child support payments.
  • License Suspension –Payors who owe back child support for six months or more are at risk of losing their occupational or professional license if they do not pay up. For payors who do not need licenses for their employment, the DCSS may ask the court to revoke or suspend their driver’s license.
  • Arrest Warrant –Parents who owe more than $5,000 in past-due child support may have a warrant issued for their arrest. The Arizona Department of Economic Security website posts photos of child support evaders on their website if the payor’s whereabouts are unknown.

If you have questions regarding child support enforcement, contact an experienced Arizona attorney to discuss your concerns.