There are several remedies in Arizona Courts for parents who are not receiving child support that is owed. Recently, the Maricopa County Superior Court has changed some aspects of child support enforcement and is attempting to clear the large number of deadbeat parents from the system.
Parents who owe a substantial amount of unpaid support can be found in contempt, incarcerated, and ordered to pay attorney’s fees, sanctions, and large interest amounts. For parents who continue to ignore these obligations or have serious problems paying, there are now two relatively new options that are being overhauled in Maricopa County – Enforcement Court and Accountability Court.
Accountability Court is generally for parents who are willing to pay support but are not fulfilling their obligation to pay support do to an identified employment issue, such as being unemployed or underemployed. This Court will often modify the support orders or the payment on arrears from the Family Court division based on individual circumstances. Generally an Accountability Court referral is for one year and will require the payor to attend approximately every three months. If the assigned payment is not made, the Court can and often will set a purge amount to be paid (usually by the end of the week) and issue an arrest warrant if it is not paid. These hearings often include the “chain” litigants – those who are incarcerated for non-payment and are in county custody.
Enforcement Court is even stricter than Accountability Court. Generally Enforcement Court is for payors who have the ability to pay but have chronically refused to pay support. Enforcement Court will likely result in little leeway if a payor has not met financial obligations.
In order to get someone out of or into either of these Courts, it is important to understand the policy motivations and the law behind Arizona child support statutes. Mere non-payment of a child support obligation is usually not enough to get a payor into these Courts, but it may be enough to keep one there.
It is best to speak with a qualified child support attorney who frequently practices in these areas of law. Attorneys at our office will vigorously enforce child support orders, and hopefully recover your attorney’s fees from a non-paying parent. For those ordered to pay or who face large arrearage judgments, we can help to mitigate the consequences of non-payment and the associated financial damages.