Child Support Enforcement

Q: I need help with child support enforcement. I went through a divorce two years ago and my ex-spouse has not complied with any of the orders what can I do?

  • First we need to figure out what orders you’re talking about and how to enforce on each.

Q: I have a child support order but the Court is not garnishing his wages so they won’t pay.

  • First you should contact the child support clearinghouse to make sure that there is not something that you have not done that is holding up the payments. Next I would make sure that the income withholding order was sent to his/her employer.

Q: What is the number for the Clearinghouse?

  • The number is: (602) 506-3762

Q: Okay I checked and the income withholding order is not processing.

  • At that point contacting the clerk of court is the next step. You should find out if they have the employer information for your ex-spouse. If no one tells the clerk where to send the income withholding order it can delay the processing of payments.

Q: They don’t have the right employer information. What do I do?

  • You have the option of filing a Current Employer Form with the information and sending a copy to the clerk of court.

Q: That isn’t my responsibility my ex was supposed to do that!

  • I understand but that is the most efficient way of getting the information to them. If you wait on your ex the clerk may never get the information.

Q: Okay, but I don’t have all of the information. What do I do?

  • Call the company your ex works for and ask for the following information:

 

CURRENT EMPLOYER NAME:

PAYROLL ADDRESS:

CITY: STATE: ZIP:

EMPLOYER TELEPHONE:

EMPLOYER FAX:

 

If they won’t work with you and you can’t locate the information it is likely time to talk to an experienced family law attorney.

 

Q: I was able to get the information, filed the current employer form, and sent it to the clerk. No what?

  • Once the clerk has the correct information the income withholding order should start processing and the payments should start. I would recommend contacting the clerk a week or so later just to make sure they sent the income withholding order to the employer.

Q: What happens if my ex loses their job?

  • A child support order does not change simply because an individual loses his/her job. The order continues until the Court orders otherwise.

Q: Well, the income withholding order has stopped. Now what?

  • If the state is involved with your case you can contact child support enforcement. This process can take a long time as the state handles many cases as you can imagine.

Q: How do I know if the state is involved with my case?

  • If the attorney general’s office took part in your case initially there is a good chance that the state is involved with your matter.

Q: I don’t remember them being a part of the case. Are there other ways to check?

  • Yes. If you look at the court docket which can be seen by visiting the superior court website located at:

http://www.superiorcourt.maricopa.gov/docket/FamilyCourtCases/

You will likely see “The State of Arizona (ex’s name)”

  • If the state is involved with your case and you would like to file a modification without using child support enforcement you need to make sure to serve the state when you file your paperwork.

Q: The state is not involved. Now what?

  • Well, you have the option of filing a petition to enforce and ask the court to enforce the prior order.

Q: Okay. What do I need to prove?

  •  Once an enforcement action is filed properly and the order is valid, your ex will have to show that they complied with the order and if not why they have not. If they have not complied the court can find the individual in contempt and in child support cases can even incarcerate someone.

Q: So once I file the petition what happens next?

  • Once an individual files a petition to enforce correctly an order to appear is issued by the court that tells both of you that you have to attend a hearing on your petition.

Q: My ex is not working. What will the court do since they are not working?

  • The court has discretion in their rulings but remember as discussed earlier an order does not change just because someone’s employment status changes. You should also know that child support is not retroactive so the court cannot go back and change the current order because your ex lost their job several months ago. Your ex would have to petition to modify the order and the court can only change the order back to the first of the month following your ex ‘s filing of the petition.

Q. Well that handles child support. What do I do about the spousal maintenance that my ex has not been paying?

  • First you need to check to see when the spousal maintenance was ordered. When was your maintenance award supposed to terminate? Make sure that you know. There is a statute that bars enforcement of spousal maintenance if the petition is filed three years after the award was supposed to terminate.
  • For example: In 2010 your ex was ordered to pay spousal maintenance for 24 months. The award was to terminate January 1, 2012. If you fail to enforce by January 2, 2015 you are barred from seeking enforcement.
  • You must seek enforcement within three years from the date of termination of the award. For more on this topic please follow this link:

https://mymodernlaw.com/there-is-a-three-year-statute-of-limitation-to-collect-alimony/

  • If you are not precluded from filing, you would file an enforcement action for spousal maintenance. Prior to filing you may consider sending a letter or email asking your ex to start making payments. If your ex starts paying great. If not, you can show the court that you tried to work it out with your ex but they are not willing to work it out outside of court.

Q: I have a child with this person. What if they get mad and take it out on my child?

  • You have no control over what another person does. If your ex does take it out on your child it may necessitate police or court involvement or even a change in parenting time and custody. This is a concern I hear quite often. Unfortunately, financial strain can lead to domestic violence and child abuse. Neither of which is ever acceptable. While this is always a possibility this threat is not a reason to forgo the financial support your family needs.

Q: Do I have to prove that my ex has not paid spousal maintenance?

  • No. As with child support, the person that is accused not non-payment will have to prove that he/she has paid or has a just reason for non-payment.

I hope this has been helpful.

Q. It has. I didn’t even know where to begin.

  • That is a common issue for individuals that have not had a lot of experience with courts. As always if you have questions or concerns it is always a good idea to speak with an experience family law attorney.