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I’ve fallen behind in child support. What do I do? 

On Behalf of | Apr 20, 2023 | Divorce

When a couple becomes parents, they are legally obligated to care and provide for the child regardless of the nature of their relationship. And most parents take this responsibility seriously. If you divorce, however, the court may step and direct one parent to pay child support to the other.

Child support is intended for meeting the child’s day-to-day upkeep. It’s used for financing the child’s education, accommodation, healthcare and food among other needs. So what happens when a parent does pay child support?

Failing to pay child support has consequences

A child support order, like any other court order, is binding. If you are held in contempt for failure to pay a court-sanctioned child support, you may face a range of consequences such as:

  • The suspension of your driver’s license
  • Liens on your property
  • Wage garnishment 
  • Fines and imprisonment 

Per Arizona law, failure to pay child support, also known as “failure of a parent to provide for the child,” is a class VI felony. That can mean jail time and fines.

So what should you do if you cannot pay child support?

Life’s circumstances change. If you have undergone a significant change in circumstance that makes it impractical for you to keep up with your child support obligations, you can do something about it. You can petition the court for a child support modification. 

Significant changes in circumstances that can justify child support modification include:

  • Loss of job or source of income
  • A medical condition that is severely eroding your finances
  • Any other genuine issue that is impacting your finances

It is important to understand that you cannot deliberately quit your job to avoid paying child support. 

Child support is one of the most important components of the divorce settlement process. However, a change in your financial circumstances can impact your ability to provide for your child. Learning more about Arizona child support laws can help you safeguard your rights and interests while modifying an existing child support order.