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Contempt for Not Paying Child Support in Arizona

Posted By Legal Team | March 15 2023 | Child Support

If you live in Arizona and do not pay the child support that you owe, you may find yourself in contempt of court. If a parent knowingly and willfully disobeys a court order, they may be punished for not complying with the court’s order to pay child support.

Contempt of Court

Parents who are ordered to pay child support must comply with the terms the court set out for them. If they fail to pay the child support as mandated, they can be found in contempt of court, and it can become a serious legal matter. Being in contempt of court can result in fines, jail time, and other penalties.

Filing a Petition for Contempt

For child support to be enforced, the custodial parent must begin by filing a petition for contempt in the court where the order was issued. The court will then schedule a hearing and the non-custodial parent must be served and given a copy of the contempt petition.

The parents are required to appear before the court, where both sides will be heard so it can be determined whether the non-custodial parent is, indeed, in contempt of court. If the court finds that the parent is non-compliant with the child support order’s terms, the parent is considered in contempt.

In order to satisfy the child support terms, the parent may be ordered to pay their past-due child support or provide health insurance or some other type of financial relief for their child.

Consequences for Being in Contempt of Court

Falling behind on child support payments and being found in contempt because of this can mean severe penalties for the non-compliant parent. The parent may face hefty fines and time in jail. Because the custodial parent was probably required to hire an attorney and take off work to be there, the court may order that the parent in contempt pay for their attorney’s fees and the associated court costs.

Incarceration for Failure to Pay Child Support

In Arizona, a parent can be incarcerated for up to six months if they fail to pay their child support. If the parent is found in contempt, they could be sentenced to jail until they catch up on their child support and comply with the court order.

Being incarcerated is not necessarily to punish the offending parent but to force them to comply with the child support order. So, if a parent with a past-due child support balance pays what they owe, they will be released from jail.

Fines for Being in Contempt

Court-imposed fines are often issued to a parent found in contempt because they neglected to pay their child support. The court will review the specifics of the case and the amount the parent is behind in their child support before determining the amount of the fines. Fines can be significant, and the financial hurdle can put them at a disadvantage, which could make paying child support in the future more difficult.

Suspension of Licenses Due to Neglecting to Pay Child Support

If one parent has not paid their child support and is found in contempt, they can have their licenses suspended. This could include not only driver’s licenses but professional and business licenses as well. This can cause difficulties for that parent because it may make it impossible to retain gainful employment without a professional license and without being able to drive themselves.

Assets May Be Seized

If a parent fails to support their child, the court may take the assets they do have, like their bank accounts or personal property, from them in order to settle what they owe their child, according to the child support agreement. This may create a significantly unstable financial situation for the non-custodial parent.

Contact Us Today

If you are a custodial or non-custodial parent and are facing problems due to unpaid child support, contact a family law attorney from the Law Office of Karen A. Schoenau to discuss your options.

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