Married and unmarried couples may have children during their relationships. If for any reason the couple separates, children will be left to just one parent to take care of. This can be a financially demanding task as it may not be easy to raise children on the income of one person. To ensure that children of such relationships have a decent life, child support laws have been established.
What is Child Support?
It is a payment done monthly for the well-being of their child by a non-custodial parent to a custodial parent . The payments could also be made by both parents if the child is in foster care or living with a guardian. Through child support agreements, responsibility is allocated to the parents for various expenses like medical care and daycare costs.
The Child Support Process
In order to establish a child support case, the non-custodial parent must first be located. This could be done by using legal records such as name, social security number, etc. When the parent is located, a legal notice is issued to notify that child support payments are to be established. There may be a need to establish the paternity of the child using a DNA test. On conclusion of this, the proceedings can commence. The birth certificate of the child may also be required to apply for child support.
Parents applying for child support can fill the form at https://des.az.gov/sites/default/files/dl/CSE-0167A.pdf?time=1620526207280 and mail this form to DCSS-Documents@azdes.gov.
How do You Receive Child Support?
Parents receiving child support can do so using the Arizona Electronic Payment Card (EPC). The EPC is a debit card that can be used by parents to access funds paid into the card account. This card can be used to make withdrawals from ATMs around the world. The money funded to the card is that which has been received by the non-custodial parent. If there is a default in payment, no money will be loaded into the card.
Parents can also opt to receive the child support payments via direct deposits to their bank accounts. This money can be withdrawn like normal funds paid into the account.
If there is a change in the income level of the parent paying child support, the custodial parent can request a legal modification of the previous child support agreement to reflect this income change. To apply for modification, the form at https://des.az.gov/sites/default/files/legacy/dl/CSE-1178A.pdf?time=1620526869940 should be filled and submitted to the Division of Child Support Services office. The review time depends on how compliant the parents are in provided needed information and may take as long as 6 months.
Parents receiving child support can also close the child support case if they wish to discontinue the payments. But this process cannot be initiated by the non-custodial parent. Custodial parents receiving any form of public financial aid cannot request that their child support cases be closed. Child support cases may also be closed if the non-custodial parent is imprisoned without any chance of getting out before the child becomes an adult. For more details, visit https://des.az.gov/services/child-and-family/child-support/parents-receiving-child-support.
Maximum Amount Receivable as Child Support
The amount of money receivable as child support is highly dependent on different factors. The state considers the gross income of both parents, the number of children, the parent who pays for medical and dental insurance, the age of the child, etc. Even with all these considerations, the child support payment cannot be more than 50% of the non-custodial parent’s disposable income. For cases with more than 6 children, the state does not request any additional payments after calculating for the first 6 children. In cases where the parents have shared custody, the parent who earns more will have to pay the difference between their child support obligations assuming no custody and their child support entitlement assuming full custody. In other words, if the father earns more and should have paid $500 as the non-custodial parent or should have received $300 as the custodial parent, he will be required to pay the difference ($200) in a case of shared custody.
The Arizona child support calculator can be accessed at https://www.azcourts.gov/familylaw/2018-child-support-calculator. For further details, visit https://azfamilylaw.co/average-maximum-child-support-in-arizona/.
Enforcement of Child Support
Non-custodial Parents who owe child support are held accountable by the state. Arizona Child Support Evader program lists parents who have defaulted on their child support payments. To be on this list, the person must owe more than $5000 or have arrears of more than 12 months, be untraceable (location unknown) and should not be receiving welfare aid. These persons have their pictures and some of their details posted so that members of the public can report them for prosecution. This can be found at https://des.az.gov/services/child-and-family/child-support/wanted-child-support-evaders.
The state also requires that non-custodial parents make their child support payments before settling other debts they may have. Child support payments may also be deducted from the unemployment benefits of non-custodial parents. The deductions made may be up to 50%. For more details on this, see https://des.az.gov/services/child-and-family/child-support/child-support-and-unemployment-questions-and-answers.