Here at the Law Offices of Scott David Stewart, we often meet with clients who are dealing with very serious non-payment of child support problems. Either the non-custodial parent is in arrears or the custodial parent needs to enforce an existing child support order against the other parent. When child support obligations are not met, the state will step in. The Arizona Department of Economic Security (DES) takes on support enforcement to get parental funds rolling again.
Administrative Child Support Enforcement.
The Division of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) unit is responsible for enforcing, or collecting, child support from non-compliant parents. A non-custodial parent facing enforcement action will receive notice of the proposed action and will have an opportunity to seek review of the DCSE’s garnishment. If the garnishment is unchallenged, then an administrative income withholding order is issued by the state. The parent’s employer is ordered to withhold a specific sum (covering both current child support and arrearages) from the employee’s wages.
Seizing Assets to Collect Back Child Support.
If the non-custodial parent has a bank, investment, or trust account, then DCSE will apply a lien on the account and seize the money to pay the unpaid child support. Although accounts holding available cash are the easiest target for state seizure, other property held by the delinquent obligor may also be seized and the proceeds used to pay down the support arrearages. Did the non-custodial parent recently have a winning lottery ticket with a cash price of $600 or more? The DCSE will snare the lottery winnings to offset what is owed in back support as well.
State Tax Refund Goes to DES.
If the obligor-parent anticipates a tax refund from the Arizona Department of Revenue, and the parent owes $50 or more in child support, then the DCSE will intercept the tax refund and apply it to the support obligation. In fact, the state may apply the entire tax refund to offset any unpaid back child support.
DCSE Reports Child Support Account Information to Credit Bureaus.
Like any other debt that requires regular payments, child support is included as a monthly entry on the non-custodial parent’s credit report. DCSE will report all child support payments and any unpaid balances. If the parent doesn’t pay child support for 180 days, then it is reported as being past due and in collection. Any account information on a credit report that indicates a past due debt will result in greater difficulty borrowing money, renting an apartment, buying a residence, and so on.
Suspending and Revoking a Parent’s Licenses.
Failure to pay child support for six months or longer may result in the non-custodial parent losing his or her recreational license to hunt or fish, as well as a driver’s license – these state-issued licenses may be suspended or permanently revoked. Furthermore, the DCSE’s administrative authority to suspend a license extends to any occupational or professional license that the obligor-parent holds. Suspending an occupational or professional license for non-payment of child support is a powerful tool as it may result in the parent’s immediate unemployment. Because the department has administrative authority to act on these matters, no judicial action is required before the license is taken.
Contempt of Court and State Criminal Prosecution for NonPayment of Child Support.
When the DCSE believes that further action must be taken to collect child support arrearages because of the parent’s willful refusal to pay, then it may seek a contempt order from a Superior Court Judge. As a result of the contempt hearing, the Court may fine and jail the noncompliant parent for violating the Court’s child support order.
If the amount of back child support is excessive and the parent has been delinquent in payments for a long time, then the non-custodial parent may be charged with a misdemeanor or even a felony for willful nonpayment.
In our next post, we’ll cover more child support enforcement measures. If you are concerned about establishing, enforcing, or modifying child support payments, then you need to speak with a knowledgeable child support lawyer at the Law Offices of Scott David Stewart.
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