Enforcing Child Support Payments
There are serious consequences for an individual who does not comply with child support orders. This can include financial repercussions as well as criminal actions. When a parent does not comply with a court order to appear in court, the state may issue a child support arrest warrant. The individual may then be arrested, and may be required to pay a specified amount before they will be released from custody.
If an individual is not in compliance, willfully fails to pay child support, and is, at least, six months in arrears, they may also have their driver’s license suspended. To be reinstated, they will have to show that they are in compliance with the court orders, and pay any fees for reinstatement.
It is important for parents to understand that withholding child support is not the way to handle a parenting dispute. Even if the custodial parent is preventing the other parent from seeing their child, non-payment of child support will not help matters, and may lead to jail time. If a parent is not complying with court parenting orders, any disputes should be taken to the court, and not handled through self-help.
Child Support Changes or Modification
Either parent may ask the court to modify a child support order, on a showing of a substantial and continuing change of circumstances. This could be due to an increase in income, a decrease in income, loss of employment, having to care for additional children, or changes in the child’s health and development. If either parent disputes the proposed modification, they can request a hearing on the matter.
Challenging Paternity and Child Support
In Arizona, a man is presumed to be the father of a child if he and the mother were married at any time in the ten months leading up to the birth of the child, or within 10 months after the marriage was terminated. The signature on the birth certificate or a witnessed statement signed by both parents can also lead to a presumption of fatherhood. However, before or after the child is born, the purported father may doubt that he is the actual father of the child.
A presumption of paternity can also make the father responsible for the reasonable and necessary support of the child. In order to challenge an order for child support based on paternity, the father will have to first establish that they are not the biological father of the child.
In cases of contested paternity, genetic testing may be conducted on the child, father, and mother. The test will establish a probability of paternity. A probability of 95 percent or higher establishes the legal presumption of paternity. If either the mother or the father of the child requests genetic testing, all parties must submit to testing. If the genetic testing establishes paternity, the court will enter an order naming the biological father of the child as the legal father.
The costs of genetic testing will be advanced by the State of Arizona. However, if the father requesting the paternity test is shown to be the biological father, he may then become responsible for repayment of the costs associated with the genetic tests.