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Debate over turning child support division over to state

Raising children is expensive so it is important that both parents be involved in assisting financially, regardless of the relationship status of the parents or the specific custody arrangement. When married parents divorce or when a parent who was never married to the other seeks child support, a judge will often order the non-custodial parent to pay child support to the custodial parent. However, the prevalence of child support disputes among parents often means that county or state agencies need to get involved.

Currently in Arizona, the State of Arizona provides child support payment and enforcement services for 13 of the 15 counties throughout the state. The Board of Supervisors for La Paz County in Arizona recently discussed turning over the job of providing those child support services to the state instead of providing the services themselves. The issue has been under discussion for the last three years. Although the provision of these services costs the county between $80,000 and $120,000 each year--and turning over the job to the State could reduce these costs--the La Paz County Child Support Division has been praised statewide for its effectiveness in collecting payments of approximately $1 million per year. Some question whether the state could be so effective and why the county should relinquish the role if it is already doing a commendable job.

Arizona parents need to understand that it is important to comply with court-ordered child support obligations in order to avoid penalties and other problems resulting from non-payment. Child support obligations continue until a child reaches the age of 18 or graduates high school. There are specific guidelines that help courts determine child support amounts, and these guidelines are focused on ensuring that a child's needs are adequately provided for.

If Arizona parents encounter difficulty in meeting their child support obligations or if other circumstances change, they should seek the assistance of an experienced attorney and look into the possibility of child support adjustments instead of simply stopping payments. In certain situations, a parent can be successful in achieving a child support modification if he or she proves that a justification exists for modifying the child support order. For example, if circumstances change so that a child support order would either be increased or decreased by at least 15% if based on the changed circumstances, then a parent likely has a strong case for child support modification.

Source: ParkerPioneer.net, "County postpones turning Child Support Division over to state," John Gutenkunst, Oct. 27, 2014

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