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CAN I BE JAILED FOR FAILING TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT IN ARIZONA?

Arizona has long recognized the social utility of having both parents actively involved in supporting their children. A child who receives support and care from both parents is more likely to develop into a productive member of society than a child with absent and unsupportive parents.

That is why the federal and state laws have empowered the Department of Child Support Services with many powerful legal tools to compel the support of children from noncompliant parents. For example, the DCSS can intercept federal and state tax refunds to offset child support payment arrearages. The DCSS can also order employers to withhold monthly child-support payments from the wages of their employees who owe child support. The DCSS can also seize assets from a noncompliant parent’s bank accounts as well as some items of property in cases where there are at least 12 months of past-due child support payments.

In a worst-case scenario where a parent is willfully refusing to pay a court ordered child support payment, the DCSS can file a motion with the Arizona Superior Court to find that parent in contempt of court. If the motion is granted, that parent could be jailed for a period to be determined by the court.

There are a few things you should know if you are facing child support arrearages. An Arizona family law attorney can examine the circumstances of your case and help you develop strategies to minimize your legal liabilities. For example, a work-related disability or serious illness may qualify you for a modification of your monthly child support obligations. Additionally, an attorney can help you seek increased custody of your child that may ultimately reduce or eliminate your child support payments.

Source: Arizona Department of Economic Security, “Enforcement Remedies Used By Child Support Services,” accessed July 31, 2015

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