Enforcement Remedies Used By Child Support Services
State Enforcement Remedies
Arizona law gives the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) the authority for many enforcement remedies. However, DCSS is required to notify parents before taking many enforcement actions. The notices for these enforcement actions include instructions on how to request an administrative review to dispute the enforcement action being taken.
Administrative Income Withholding Order
DCSS is required by law to issue an income withholding order to collect support from parent’s earnings. DCSS will send an administrative income withholding order or order of assignment to an employer to withhold the monthly amount for current support. The order may add an additional amount for any unpaid support that is owed.
Arizona Department of Revenue (DOR) State Tax Refund Offset
Federal and State laws give DCSS the authority to intercept State Income Tax Refunds when a past-due child support balance exits even if child support payments are being made. Arizona law allows DCSS to take (offset) State tax refunds from DOR for parents who owe past-due support of at least $50.00. DCSS may offset the tax refund up to the total amount of past-due support that is owed.
DCSS may seize (take) bank accounts or other property to collect child support arrears of twelve months or more in unpaid support or when there is a court ordered judgment. Financial institutions may include banks, credit unions, federal and state savings and loan associations, trust companies, mutual funds and other similar institutions.
Credit Bureau Reporting
DCSS reports all support cases to credit reporting agencies on a monthly basis by following both federal legislation and the Fair Credit Reporting Act. The credit report account shows the monthly payment amount that is due, the payment amount received and any past-due amounts. Balances on accounts unpaid for 180 days appear on credit reports as collection accounts. When unpaid support is reported on a credit report, it may be more difficult to receive loans, acquire credit cards, and make large purchases. Credit reporting continues as long as payments are due on an open child support case.
Liens on Property
DCSS may place a lien for unpaid child support on property, and including houses. When property has a child support lien, potential buyers, title companies and lenders can find that a lien exists on the property. The lien remains on the property until the amount owed is paid. The lien applies to property that is owned at the time the lien is recorded and to all property that may be acquired at a later time.
Lottery Winnings Offset
DCSS intercepts cash prizes in excess of $600.00 from a noncustodial parent (NCP) who owes past-due child support.
Suspension or Revocation of Licenses
DCSS may review a case for license suspension when six months or more of child support is owed. Arizona law has given DCSS the authority to administratively suspend a professional or occupational license (such as a contractor’s license) without going to court. DCSS may request the court to suspend or revoke a driver’s license or recreational license (such as a big game hunting license and/or fishing license).
Referral to Court/Contempt
DCSS has the authority to file a motion with the Arizona Superior Court to find the NCP in contempt of court for willfully failing or refusing to pay as ordered by the Court. The NCP may be fined and/or jailed for a period of time at the discretion of the Court.
State Criminal Prosecution
State law authorizes prosecution at the state level for non-payment of child support. If the NCP has willfully failed to pay child support, the NCP can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the past-due amount and the last time a payment was made. DCSS may request the Arizona Attorney General's Office to review for this type of prosecution.
Federal Criminal Prosecution
Federal law authorizes prosecution at the federal level for non-payment of child support. If the NCP leaves the state where the child resides and fails to pay child support, the NCP can be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the past-due amount and the last a time a payment was made. DCSS may request the U.S. Attorney General's Office to review for this type of prosecution.
Federal Enforcement Remedies
Federal Administrative Offset (FAO)
DCSS may request the federal government to withhold and send payments to DCSS that the federal government owes a NCP if the noncustodial parent (NCP) owes at least $150 in past-due support. Some benefits such as social security payments, Railroad Retirement payments and Veteran’s Affairs benefits are excluded from FAO.
Federal benefits or payments subject to the offset:
- Retirement Benefits. Up to 25% may be deducted from Federal retirement benefits.
- Vendor Payments. If a NCP provides a service or performs work for the federal government, the federal payment owed to the NCP may be offset up to 100% of the amount.
- Federal salary offset. If a NCP works for the federal government, the salary may be offset up to 60% of the disposable earnings for any pay period.
- Miscellaneous payments. Expense and travel reimbursement payments may be offset up to 100%.
Federal Income Tax Refund Offset
Federal law allows DCSS to ask the U.S. Department of the Treasury to take (offset) an income tax refund that the IRS owes the NCP. This offset may occur if the custodial parent (CP) is receiving public assistance (TANF) and the NCP owes at least $150 of unpaid support. The offset may also occur if the CP is not receiving public assistance and at least $500 of unpaid support is owed. DCSS may offset the IRS refund up to the amount of unpaid support that is owed.
DCSS may report any unpaid support that is equal to or greater than $2500.00 to the U. S. Secretary of State. The U. S. Secretary of State may refuse to issue a passport or may revoke a current passport until the unpaid child support is paid. Arizona will not release a hold on a passport until the arrears are paid in full.
Federal Intergovernmental Enforcement Actions
Enforcement and Registration of Other States’ Order
According to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA), DCSS may enforce other states’ support orders and income withholding orders in the same manner as Arizona orders. DCSS may also register other states’ orders with the Arizona Court and request that the Court enforce other states' orders.
Intergovernmental Income Withholding
UIFSA also permits any person to send another state’s income withholding order to the employer of a person who owes support even if that employer is in another state.
Employment Enforcement Remedies
Income Withholding Order (IWO) Against Employment Wages
DCSS has the authority to issue an IWO for current and past-due support. An IWO is issued to the employer to deduct the required amount from the NCP's wages or other income. DCSS may find an employer by reviewing the Department of Labor wage data or by "New Hire Reports" the employer is required to submit to the State.
New Hire Reporting
Federal and State laws require all employers to report new hires to the State Directory of New Hires. DCSS has access to new hire information to locate parents who have a child support obligation.
Unemployment Insurance Benefits (UIB)
Arizona law allows for the withholding for child support payments from UIB. NCPs who owe child support may have child support obligations deducted from weekly unemployment benefit amounts.
Workers Compensation Benefits
DCSS has the authority to attach Workers' Compensation benefits from NCPs who owe child support. Weekly benefits or lump sum payouts may be taken to pay child support.