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Legal Information: Arizona

Statutes: Arizona

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December 12, 2023

§ 25-503. Order for support; methods of payment; modification; termination; statute of limitations; judgment on arrearages; notice; security

A. In any proceeding in which there is at issue the support of a child, the court may order either or both parents to pay any amount necessary for the support of the child. If the court order does not specify the date when current support begins, the support obligation begins to accrue on the first day of the month following the entry of the order. If any form of payment is rightfully dishonored by the payor bank or other drawee, any subsequent support payments and handling fees shall be paid only by cash, money order, cashier’s check, traveler’s check or certified check. The department may collect from the drawer of a dishonored payment an amount allowed pursuant to § 44-6852. Pursuant to §§ 35-146 and 35-147, the department shall deposit monies collected pursuant to this subsection in a child support enforcement administration fund. If a party required to pay support by guaranteed means demonstrates full and timely payment for twenty-four consecutive months, that party may pay support by regularly accepted forms of payment if these payments are for the full amount, are timely tendered and are not rightfully dishonored by the payor bank or other drawee. On a showing of good cause, the court may order that the party or parties required to pay support give reasonable security for these payments. If the court sets an appearance bond and the obligor fails to appear, the bond is forfeited and credited against any support owed by the party required to pay support. This subsection does not apply to payments that are made by means of a wage assignment.

B. On a showing that an income withholding order has been ineffective to secure the timely payment of support and that an amount equal to six months of current support has accrued, the court shall require the obligor to give security, post bond or give some other guarantee to secure overdue support.

C. In title IV-D cases, and in all other cases subject to an income withholding order issued on or after January 1, 1994, after notice to the party entitled to receive support, the department or its agent may direct the party obligated to pay support or other payor to make payment to the support payment clearinghouse. The department or its agent shall provide notice by first class mail.

D. The obligation for current child support shall be fully met before any payments under an order of assignment may be applied to the payment of arrearages. If a party is obligated to pay support for more than one family and the amount available is not sufficient to meet the total combined current support obligation, any monies shall be allocated to each family as follows:

1. The amount of current support ordered in each case shall be added to obtain the total support obligation.

2. The ordered amount in each case shall be divided by the total support obligation to obtain a percentage of the total amount due.

3. The amount available from the obligor’s income shall be multiplied by the percentage under paragraph 2 of this subsection to obtain the amount to be allocated to each family.

E. Any order for child support may be modified or terminated on a showing of changed circumstance that is substantial and continuing, except as to any amount that may have accrued as an arrearage before the date of notice of the motion or order to show cause to modify or terminate. The addition of health insurance coverage as defined in § 25-531 or a change in the availability of health insurance coverage may constitute a continuing and substantial change in circumstance. Modification and termination are effective on the first day of the month following notice of the petition for modification or termination unless the court, for good cause shown, orders the change to become effective at a different date but not earlier than the date of filing the petition for modification or termination. The order of modification or termination may include an award of attorney fees and court costs to the prevailing party.

F. On petition of a person who has been ordered to pay child support pursuant to a presumption of paternity established pursuant to § 25-814, the court may order the petitioner’s support to terminate if the court finds based on clear and convincing evidence that paternity was established by fraud, duress or material mistake of fact. Except for good cause shown, the petitioner’s support obligations continue in effect until the court has ruled in favor of the petitioner. The court shall order the petitioner, each child who is the subject of the petition and the child’s mother to submit to genetic testing and shall order the appropriate testing procedures to determine the child’s inherited characteristics, including blood and tissue type. If the court finds that the petitioner is not the child’s biological father, the court shall vacate the determination of paternity and terminate the support obligation. Unless otherwise ordered by the court, an order vacating a support obligation is prospective and does not alter the petitioner’s obligation to pay child support arrearages or any other amount previously ordered by the court. If the court finds that it is in the child’s best interests, the court may order the biological father to pay restitution to the petitioner for any child support paid before the court ruled in favor of the petitioner pursuant to this subsection.

G. Notwithstanding subsection E of this section, in a title IV-D case a party, or the department or its agent if there is an assignment of rights under § 46-407, may request every three years that an order for child support be reviewed and, if appropriate, adjusted. The request may be made without a specific showing of a changed circumstance that is substantial and continuing. The department or its agent shall conduct the review in accordance with the child support guidelines of this state. If appropriate, the department shall file a petition in the superior court to adjust the support amount. Every three years the department or its agent shall notify the parties of their right to request a review of the order for support. The department or its agent shall notify the parties by first class mail at their last known address or by including the notice in an order.

H. If a party in a title IV-D case requests a review and adjustment sooner than three years, the party shall demonstrate a changed circumstance that is substantial and continuing.

I. The right of a party entitled to receive support or the department to receive child support payments as provided in the court order vests as each installment falls due. Each vested child support installment is enforceable as a final judgment by operation of law. The department or its agent or a party entitled to receive support may also file a request for written judgment for support arrearages.

J. Voluntary relinquishment of physical custody of a child to the obligor from the obligee is an affirmative defense in whole or in part to a petition for enforcement of child support arrears. In determining whether the relinquishment was voluntary, the court shall consider whether there is any evidence or history of any of the following:

1. Domestic violence.

2. Parental kidnapping.

3. Custodial interference.

K. The relinquishment pursuant to subsection J of this section must have been for a time period in excess of any court-ordered period of parenting time and the obligor must have supplied actual support for the child.

L. If the obligee, the department or their agents make efforts to collect a child support debt more than ten years after the emancipation of the youngest child subject to the order, the obligor may assert as a defense, and has the burden to prove, that the obligee or the department unreasonably delayed in attempting to collect the child support debt. On a finding of unreasonable delay a tribunal, as defined in § 25-1202, may determine that some or all of the child support debt is no longer collectible after the date of the finding.

M. Notwithstanding any other law, any judgment for support and for associated costs and attorney fees is exempt from renewal and is enforceable until paid in full.

N. If a party entitled to receive child support or spousal maintenance or the department or its agent enforcing an order of support has not received court-ordered payments, the party entitled to receive support or spousal maintenance or the department or its agent may file with the clerk of the superior court a request for judgment of arrearages and an affidavit indicating the name of the party obligated to pay support and the amount of the arrearages. The request must include notice of the requirements of this section and the right to request a hearing within twenty days after service in this state or within thirty days after service outside this state. The request, affidavit and notice must be served pursuant to the Arizona rules of family law procedure on all parties including the department or its agents in title IV-D cases. In a title IV-D case, the department or its agent may serve all parties by certified mail, return receipt requested. Within twenty days after service in this state or within thirty days after service outside this state, a party may file a request for a hearing if the arrearage amount or the identity of the person is in dispute. If a hearing is not requested within the time provided, or if the court finds that the objection is unfounded, the court must review the affidavit and grant an appropriate judgment against the party obligated to pay support.

O. If after reasonable efforts to locate the obligee the clerk or support payment clearinghouse is unable to deliver payments for a period of one hundred twenty days after the date the first payment is returned as undeliverable due to the failure of a party to whom the support has been ordered to be paid to notify the clerk or support payment clearinghouse of a change in address, the clerk or support payment clearinghouse shall return that and all other unassigned payments to the obligor unless there is an agreement of the obligor to pay assigned arrears and other debts owed to the state.

P. If the obligee of a child support order marries the obligor of the child support order, that order automatically terminates on the last day of the month in which the marriage takes place and arrearages do not accrue after that date. However, the obligee or the state may collect child support arrearages that accrued before that date. The obligee, the obligor or the department or its agent in a title IV-D case may file a request or stipulation to terminate or adjust any existing order of assignment pursuant to § 25-504 or 25-505.01.

Q. For the purposes of this chapter, a child is emancipated:

1. On the date of the child’s marriage.

2. On the child’s eighteenth birthday.

3. When the child is adopted.

4. When the child dies.

5. On the termination of the support obligation if support is extended beyond the age of majority pursuant to § 25-501, subsection A or § 25-320, subsections E and F.