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Family Law Research Guide: Modifications of Child Support

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How do I modify my child support?

There are two ways to file for child support modification. First, pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-503(F), a party may request every three years that an order of child support be reviewed and if appropriate modified, and under § 25-327(A), either parent or the state title IV-D agency may ask the court to modify a child support order upon a showing of a substantial and continuing change of circumstances. Second, either parent or the state title IV-D agency may request the court to modify a child support order if application of the guidelines results in an order that varies fifteen percent or more from the existing amount. Arizona Child Support Guidelines § 24(B). A request for modification of the child support amount must be accompanied by a completed and sworn Parent's Worksheet for Child Support Amount and documentation supporting the incomes if different from the court's most recent findings regarding income of the parents. If the party requesting the modification is unable to provide documentation supporting the other party's income, the requesting party shall indicate that the income amount is attributed or estimated and state the basis for the amount listed. These documents must be served on the other parent. Arizona Child Support Guidelines § 24(B). If the requested modification is disputed, the parent receiving service must request a hearing within twenty days of service if served in state and thirty days if served out of state A hearing is requested by filing a written request for hearing accompanied by a completed and sworn Parent's Worksheet for Child Support Amount. These documents must be served on the other party and, if appropriate, the state IV-D agency by first class mail not less than ten judicial days prior to the hearing. Arizona Child Support Guidelines § 24(B).

If no hearing is requested and proof of service is provided, the court will review the request and enter an appropriate order. Arizona Child Support Guidelines § 24(B).

Modification of child support will only apply to those payments due after notice to the opposing party and will not apply to any past due or arrearage amounts. A.R.S. § 25-327(A).

What if I want to modify child support because one of the children who was covered by the child support order is now over the age of eighteen?

If the court orders support for more than one child, the child support order does not automatically adjust once one of the children turns eighteen. A modification must be sought under A.R.S. § 25-327.

How do I enforce my decree of dissolution of marriage when the other party will not comply with its terms?

A decree may order one party to pay child support, spousal maintenance, and/or attorney's fees. Depending on the purpose of the payment, the order may be enforced by one or more of the following procedures:  (1) a judgment lien, (2) a garnishment, (3) an execution, (4) supplemental proceedings, (5) an assignment of earnings, (6) withholding from wages, (7) an action under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, or (8) contempt proceedings. Assignment of earnings, withholding from wages, and the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act are only available for child support and spousal maintenance.

If you decide to pursue a judgment lien, a judgment for payment of money is valid for five years and must be renewed before expiration by an action filed within that time or an affidavit filed within ninety days preceding the expiration date. A.R.S. § 12-1611 and § 12-1612. A certified copy of a money judgment becomes a lien when recorded. A.R.S. § 33-961(A).

Child support payments vest when each installment is due and is enforceable as a matter of law. However, these types of judgments expire three years after the emancipation of the last remaining minor child who was included in the court order. A.R.S. § 25-503(I). Some exceptions to this rule are set forth in the statute; you can also request a written money judgment before the expiration of the three years and preserve your rights to unpaid child support.

When one of the parents has not complied with the custody order and the other parent files an order to show cause for contempt and/or modification of the custody order, the court in Cochise, Coconino, Maricopa, Pima, Pinal and Yavapai counties have local rules requiring that the parties attend mediation. Contact your local Superior Court clerk regarding court rules.

Can I enforce a decree from another state if I and/or my child now reside in Arizona?

A valid foreign divorce decree is entitled to recognition in Arizona. However, the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction and Enforcement Act may now provide guidelines when custody has been awarded by another state. A.R.S. § 25-1001 and subsequent sections. Once a foreign judgment is authenticated, it may be filed with the clerk of any superior court and treated as a judgment of that court. A.R.S. §§ 12-1701 and subsequent sections. Upon filing a judgment, the party filing must also file an affidavit providing the name and last known address of the other party, along with proof of mailing that the filing party mailed the notice to the opposing party. A.R.S. § 12-1703. Once a foreign judgment is filed, the filing party must wait twenty days after mailing attempt to enforce the judgment. A.R.S. § 12-1704(C).

 

Last revised:  22 October 2008

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