What do I do if my co-parent is not paying child support?

After going through the courts to obtain an order for child support, you expect to receive the monthly payments as ordered. For some newly single parents, this expectation is short-lived.

Perhaps the other parent either cannot make the payments or refuses to do so in defiance of the court order. Fortunately, Arizona law allows certain actions for enforcement.

How is a child support order enforced?

The courts sanction one or more of the following actions to enforce your child support order:

  • Garnish wages
  • Garnish unemployment benefits
  • Garnish workers’ compensation benefits
  • Seize state and federal tax returns
  • Place liens on personal and/or real property
  • Suspend driver’s licenses, professional licenses or recreational/sporting licenses
  • Report non-payment to credit bureaus
  • Issue bench warrants for arrest
  • Deny or revoke passports
  • File actions for contempt of court (could include jail time)

In addition, the law allows the assessment of 10 percent interest per year on any unpaid amounts.

What if the other parent really is unable to pay?

If the financial situation of your co-parent underwent a significant change, he or she may be able to seek a modification of the current order. Only the court can modify the order, and your co-parent must go to court and show that circumstances warrant such a modification. The court considers the evidence presented by both sides prior to making a decision.

The end of your relationship with the other parent does not end either of your relationships with the children. You are both bound to love and support your children. Neither parent’s financial obligations to the children end simply because one parent did not receive primary physical custody.

Many non-custodial parents reluctantly pay child support believing that the payments go to the other parent. In reality, the payments support the children. When those payments do not come, the children ultimately suffer.

Whether you make payments or receive them, anytime issues arise regarding meeting this important financial obligation, consult with an attorney as soon as possible to rectify the situation.