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Can I Stop Paying Child Support If I Don’t See My Kids

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Stop Paying Child Support

When parents separate or divorce, child support payments are often put in place to ensure the well-being of the children involved. But what happens if a parent no longer sees their kids?Can they stop paying child support? In many cases, the answer is no.

Even if you don’t see your children, you are still obligated to financially support them.

Consulting with a family law legal paraprofessional can help you understand your rights and options, and provide guidance on how to proceed. Remember, failing to pay child support can have serious legal consequences, so it’s essential to address the issue head-on. 

We will cover the following topics

How Does Parenting Time Impact Child Support 

In Arizona, parenting time significantly influences child support calculations, as outlined by the Arizona Child Support Guidelines.

These guidelines integrate both parents’ incomes, the child’s financial needs, and the time each parent spends with the child to determine child support obligations. Specifically, the formula adjusts the support amount based on the proportion of time the child spends with each parent.

For example, if a parent spends a greater amount of time with the child, their child support obligation may be reduced since they already cover more of the child’s day-to-day expenses.

When parents share equal or nearly equal parenting time, the child support calculation may result in a lower payment from the higher-earning parent, reflecting the shared financial responsibility. Changes in parenting time can lead to modifications in child support if they substantially affect the child’s living arrangements or the financial burdens assumed by each parent.

Arizona also offers a child support calculator that uses detailed inputs to help estimate potential support obligations based on these factors

Am I Required to Pay Child Support? 

In Arizona, the legal obligation to pay child support is clearly defined under state law.

According to Arizona Revised Statutes § 25-501, every parent has a financial responsibility to their children.

This obligation doesn’t hinge on the parents’ marital status or their custody arrangement and continues until the child reaches the age of 18 or graduates from high school, whichever occurs later.

Here are the primary considerations regarding the obligation to pay child support:

  • Court Orders and Administrative Assessments: Child support is typically determined during divorce proceedings or through paternity actions. Once established, the support amount becomes a mandate through a court order or an administrative assessment, legally binding the obligated parent to make regular payments.

     

  • Modification of Support: The law allows for modifications to the support order if there is a significant change in circumstances, such as a substantial increase or decrease in either parent’s income, a change in custody, or a shift in the child’s financial needs. These changes must be legally acknowledged through a court proceeding to adjust the support amount accordingly.
  • Automatic Termination: Child support obligations generally terminate when the child turns 18 and is no longer attending high school. However, if the child is still in high school at 18, support continues until graduation or the child’s 19th birthday, whichever comes first. Special provisions exist for children with disabilities who may require support beyond these age limits.

In summary, if you are a parent, whether living with your child or not, and irrespective of your current relationship with the other parent, you are typically required to contribute financially to your child’s upbringing. 

What are the Consequences of Not Paying Child Support 

Failing to comply with child support obligations in Arizona can lead to severe repercussions, both legally and financially. Arizona takes child support enforcement seriously, employing a variety of mechanisms under state law to ensure that payments are made timely and fully.

Here are the potential consequences for non-payment of child support:

  • Wage Garnishment: The most common method for collecting overdue child support is through wage garnishment, where a portion of the delinquent parent’s earnings is automatically deducted and directed towards the child support payment.

     

  • Seizure of Assets: The state can seize federal and state tax refunds and apply them to outstanding child support debts. Additionally, other assets, such as bank account funds, can also be targeted for the same purpose.
  • License Suspensions: Arizona may suspend a non-compliant parent’s driver’s license, professional licenses, and even recreational licenses as a punitive measure to enforce child support orders.
  • Credit Reporting: Overdue child support payments can be reported to credit bureaus, negatively affecting the non-paying parent’s credit score. This can have long-term consequences on the ability to obtain loans, credit cards, and even housing.
  • Legal Penalties: Non-payment of child support can result in contempt of court charges, which might lead to fines or incarceration. Additionally, chronic non-payment can be prosecuted under federal law if the parent moves to another state to avoid paying child support.
  • Passport Denial: The U.S. State Department can restrict the issuance of passports to individuals who owe more than $2,500 in child support, effectively limiting their ability to travel internationally.

These enforcement actions are designed to motivate compliance with child support orders and ensure that children receive the financial support they need and are legally entitled to.

If you are experiencing difficulties in making child support payments, it is crucial to seek legal advice promptly. A  legal professional can help you understand your options, such as applying for a modification of the child support order due to changes in financial circumstances. It is far better to address these issues proactively rather than face the penalties associated with non-compliance.

How Can I Stop Paying Child Support

Legally stopping child support payments in Arizona requires adherence to specific conditions recognized by the courts. Parents wishing to end these payments must proceed cautiously and within the legal framework to avoid significant penalties.

Child Reaches Legal Age

Child support obligations typically conclude when the child turns 18. However, if the child is still in high school at 18, support continues until graduation or the child’s 19th birthday, whichever occurs first. This is the most straightforward scenario for the cessation of support payments.

Emancipation of the Child

If a child under 18 becomes emancipated—through marriage, economic self-sufficiency, or military service—this can legally terminate child support obligations. The parent must provide the court with proof of the child’s emancipated status to adjust the support order officially.

 

Significant Changes in Circumstances

Parents can petition the court for a modification of the child support order if there are significant life changes that affect their ability to pay or the child’s need for support. This includes substantial changes in the paying parent’s income, a disability that affects earning capacity, or changes in custody that alter the parenting time significantly.

 

Legal Termination of Parental Rights

If a parent’s legal rights are terminated, for example through the child’s adoption by another person, the obligation to pay child support also ends. The termination must be recognized by the court, and proper legal documentation is required.

Overpayment of Child Support

In cases where a parent has overpaid child support, they may request a court to credit the excess amount against future payments, which can temporarily halt further obligations until the overpayment is balanced out.

For all these scenarios, proper legal procedure must be followed by submitting the relevant documentation to a family court. Failing to do so and merely stopping payments can lead to severe legal repercussions, including fines, enforcement actions against wages or assets, and other penalties. 

Steps to Legally Modify Child Support

Modifying child support payments in Arizona involves a legal process that must be adhered to in order to adjust payments legally. Whether you are seeking to increase, decrease, or terminate child support, these are the steps to follow:

 

Step 1: Assess Significant Changes

The first step in modifying child support is to determine whether there has been a “substantial and continuing” change in circumstances. This could include a significant change in income, loss of employment, a change in custody arrangements, or changes in the child’s needs such as medical expenses.

 

Step 2: Gather Documentation

Collect all relevant documentation that supports your claim for modification. This includes financial statements, recent tax returns, proof of income changes, medical bills, or a detailed list of changes in the child’s needs. Accurate and comprehensive documentation is crucial for supporting your case.

 

Step 3: File a Petition

You will need to file a Petition to Modify Child Support with the appropriate Arizona family court. This petition should detail the reasons for the requested change and include all supporting documentation. The court will review the petition to decide whether the evidence justifies a modification hearing.

 

Step 4: Serve the Other Parent

Once the petition is filed, you must serve a copy to the other parent. This gives them the opportunity to respond to your petition, either agreeing with or contesting the proposed changes. They have the right to file an opposing affidavit if they disagree with the changes.

 

Step 5: Mediation or Court Hearing

Depending on the other parent’s response, you may go through mediation to reach an agreement, or you may proceed to a court hearing. During a hearing, both parties will have the opportunity to present their cases, and the judge will make a decision based on the evidence provided.

 

Step 6: Obtain a New Order

If the judge approves the modification, the court will issue a new child support order. This order will specify the new amount of child support to be paid and the effective date of the change. It is essential to comply with the existing order until the new one is officially in effect.

 

Step 7: Implement the Changes

Once the new order is issued, ensure that the changes are implemented according to the terms specified. This may involve adjusting the amount directly with the employer if the child support is garnished from wages, or communicating with state child support services to update their records.

Stephanie Villalobos, LP

How Our Family Law Legal Paraprofessionals Can Help

At De Novo Law, our team of legal paraprofessionals is well-versed in the complexities of Arizona child support laws, specifically regarding cases where parenting time does not align with child support obligations.

If you are questioning whether you can stop paying child support due to not seeing your kids, we can provide clear guidance and strategic support.

We help clients handle the process of legally modifying child support orders, enforce compliance, and represent your interests in disputes to ensure that the arrangements are just and equitable. Our firm is committed to delivering informed and empathetic legal services tailored to your unique circumstances. 

For more information about our services or to schedule a consultation, you can also reach us directly at (480) 725-2200 .

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DISCLAIMER: The content of this site is for informational purposes only and is not intended to provide legal advice.  De Novo Law, LLC and its Legal Paraprofessionals are not attorneys and are not authorized to provide legal advice or representation beyond the areas and scope of practice for which license is held.  The transmission or receipt of any electronic correspondence or information does not create a legal paraprofessional-client relationship.

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