What can I do When my Ex Stops Paying Child Support?

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Enforcement options when child support defaults occur

There may be various enforcement actions available to you when an ex defaults on court-ordered child support payments, and these options can include (but may not be exclusive to):

  • Court enforcement actions , such as:
    • Jail time, which can result from findings that the parent who has defaulted is in contempt of court – The court has the discretion to determine how much jail to order, as well as whether additional fines may be imposed.
    • Criminal prosecution, which can involve either misdemeanor or felony criminal charges – In these cases, the amount of the arrearages, as well as when the last payment was made, will be factors considered when determining whether misdemeanor or felony charges are filed.
  • State administrative remedies , which can include:
    • Wage garnishments, which will involve notifying an employer that a certain amount of money is to be withheld from a parent’s paycheck each month to cover the child support arrearages
    • The interception of tax refunds, including federal and/or state tax refunds
    • Asset seizures, which generally come into play if the default has persisted for more than 12 months
    • Credit bureau reporting, which can result in unpaid child support payments (outstanding at least 180 days) appearing as collections on credit reports
  • Other possible remedies , such as:
    • Drivers’ license revocations
    • Ineligibility to obtain a passport
    • Garnishments of unemployment and/or workers’ compensation benefits
Enforcing Child Support Orders in Arizona: More Important Information
  • Administrative enforcement agency in Arizona – The Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) is the administrative agency in Arizona that has the authority to take action when child support payments go into default. By law, the DCSS is required to send out notifications to parents about enforcement actions being pursued against them due to alleged defaults on child support payments. These notices outline how to dispute the given action.
  • Use of custody as a leverage for child support – It’s important for parents to understand that, when child support defaults occur, withholding parenting time from the nonpaying parent is not the answer; this can only create more legal problems.
  • Modifications of child support orders – When parents are know they are unable to meet their child support obligations, requesting a modification of these orders from the court – rather than not making the payments – is preferable. The court can review the financial circumstances in these situations and decide whether to reduce the award (or terminate altogether).
Contact a Scottsdale Divorce Attorney at the Law Office of Karen A. Schoenau

If you need help securing child support, enforcing child support orders or resolving any family law matter, you can rely on Scottsdale Family Law Attorney Karen Schoenau for honest answers, effective representation and the best possible outcomes to your case.

To receive professional advice and learn more about how we can help you, schedule an initial consultation with Attorney Karen Schoenau. You can set up this meeting by calling 480-209-1918or by emailing us using the drop-down contact form at the top of this page.

From her offices based on Scottsdale, Attorney Karen Schoenau represents clients throughout the metropolitan Scottsdale area, including in Scottsdale, Mesa, Surprise, Maricopa County, Pinal County, Gila County and throughout the state of Arizona.

Client Reviews
Karen is highly respected in the legal community. She is effective and thorough. Karen just keeps going regardless of the odds.
Karen was extremely helpful setting up my petition for conciliation. She is by far the most knowledgeable attorney regarding the necessary paperwork, how to file the petition and where it has to be submitted. She listened intently when I was describing my situation and intentions. She was very responsive to my questions and request. She is trustworthy and diligent . I would recommend her to anyone having marital issues. Mark
Very high customer/client considerate. We found Karen when we were forced to leave another Phoenix lawyer due to his bad advice and lack of interest to help us. We were in Phoenix for six days from Michigan with nothing happening but a high wasted expense. Karen and her firm took us in and solved our issue with the courts etc. in two and a half days. Karen’s professionalism with us was very cost effective/productive. If we would have found her first, we would have saved thousands of dollars. Her interest for us was very high. She returned every call. She knew every answer to our questions. She did this for us with a death in her family. She left for a funeral and made sure we were treated with the same professionalism from her firm to finish up. I recommend Karen and her firm with very high satisfaction. Our case is custody with one parent in prison. We will return to Phoenix someday with interests for the child and his parent, if needed. Karen will be our top choice. Nolan
Karen and Bonita are wonderful!! I know that the word "wonderful" is used a lot, but the team they make and the work they did for me can only be described as WONDERFUL!! Yes there where ups and downs in my case, but that is the system and Karen along with Bonita guided and taught me as "WE" went through it together. Karen’s easy going manner and her knowledge really helped me with the emotional part of my divorce. I used the team of Karen and Bonita both times I needed to go to court with my ex and had results that were best for my little girl. Some times I did not get what I wanted, but it was what my daughter needed. Looking back at my case, I made the right choice and would do it again in a heart beat!! Jim
Karen was extremely supportive during a very trying time in our lives. She helped me to put things in perspective and think positive when I was overwhelmed. She is very knowledgeable about the laws pertaining to grandparents rights and the rights of the parents and knew how to provide the appropriate laws pertaining to the situation we were in. I am so grateful for her expertise and guidance. She proved to be very aggressive when she needed to be but was also supportive to my and my children. I would recommend her to anyone in a similar situation. Deanna