Friday, 25 January 2013 11:45

Don't Wait to Modify Support Orders!

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Arizona courts award spousal maintenance and child support based upon circumstances at the time the court makes the order. Often, the parents' or former spouses' circumstances change. Incomes change, day care costs change, insurance costs change. Many people think that they can go to court in a few months and modify child support or spousal maintenance effective as of the date the circumstances changed.

However, Arizona courts have repeatedly held that they cannot modify child support or spousal maintenance retroactively to a date before the date that the person seeking a modification filed the petition to modify. For example, Father pays $500 per month pursuant to a child support order. In January, he loses his job, but quickly finds another job and earns about half of what he used to earn. In May he files his petition to modify child support and serves Mother. In August the court has a child support hearing. The court may modify child support retroactively to the first of the month after Father served Mother with the petition, i.e. June 1. However, the court may not modify child support retroactive to January, or any other time prior to June.

Also, the father in the above example must pay the full amount of child support until the court enters an order modifying child support. Several times I have met with a father who owes tens of thousands of dollars (and sometimes over $100,000) in unpaid child support and interest (yes, there is interest on unpaid child support!). Usually, the father tells me that he should not have to pay so much because he was unemployed for a long period or became disabled or the children moved in with him at some point. Unfortunately, he never filed to modify child support and there is usually very little I can do for someone in that situation. Child support orders do not automatically change - you must ask the court to change them!

Therefore, don't wait to modify child support or spousal maintenance when your circumstances change. Also, don't just stop paying child support or spousal maintenance. If you find yourself in a situation where you may need to modify child support or spousal maintenance, or your former spouse is seeking a modification, I would love to talk to you. I offer a one-hour consultation for a flat fee that is less than half of my hourly rate. I serve clients in the Phoenix, Arizona metropolitan area.

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Contact Info

Thomas A. Morton, P. L. L. C.
2916 N. 7th Avenue, Suite 100
Phoenix, Arizona 85013
(602) 595-6870

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