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Do It Yourself

 

What exactly does it mean to go through your own divorce without an attorney? It means that you will file your paperwork, understand the rules and follow the law; just as if you were an attorney. That may sound a bit daunting at first, but not if you follow these step-by-step procedures. If controversy and arguments arise, do not despair: you may still be able to salvage your ability to go through this without an attorney by understanding and outlining your issues, and perhaps using a mediator. A mediator is a neutral third party who will visit with you and help you and your partner work out any disagreements that you are having as you go through this process.

The court will also hold you to the standard of an attorney, so if you are going to do this without an attorney, learn the rules and procedures of the court, so you are educated about what is going on.

In Arizona, how is spousal support paid?

Here in Arizona there are several options. It can be paid directly from one spouse to the other. Both parties should keep very accurate records of the payments. The court may order the payments to be made through the clearinghouse, administered by the state of Arizona. They keep track of payments for you. Failure to pay is more easily handled in the court if the payments go through the clearinghouse. Be aware that there is a lag time between the time the payment is made and the time it is received if you go through the state.

What Can I Do if the Obligated Parent Does Not Pay Child Support?

If an obligated parent does not pay child support, you may file a Petition to Enforce Child Support, Child Support Arrears and Medical Expense Reimbursement. Often, all three of those issues go together. It makes sense to include those three issues in one petition, because if the obligated parent is not paying child support, you will want to ask the court to enforce the child support order in effect. You will also want the obligated parent to pay for the months he/she did not pay, along with any medical expenses he/she did not pay. Also, be advised that it is appropriate in that petition to ask for the obligated parent to pay your attorney’s fees if you hire an attorney for this issue.

What is a Wage Assignment?

A “wage assignment” is now required for the payment of child support, and in some cases, for the payment of spousal maintenance (alimony). An assignment requires an employer or other payor (either a person or company) of a parent who is obligated by court order to pay a certain amount of child support each month to withhold that amount from the wages or money owed to the parent (employee) and to send that amount directly to the clearinghouse. This type of assignment applies to salary, wages, commissions and any type of payments received by the parent ordered to pay support. Either the person required to pay support or the person entitled to receive it can request an assignment order (A.R.S. 25-323 and 12-2454).

How is Child Support Paid?

Child support must be paid in money–not in clothing or gifts. It must be paid through the clearinghouse in the state of Arizona if there is a court order for support. In Arizona, most child support payments are made through the “clearinghouse” and, if possible, through wage assignment. If a parent is ordered to make child support payments through the clearinghouse, that parent shall send the payment to the clearinghouse directly, not to the other parent. The clearinghouse keeps track of all payments. If you have been ordered to make payments through the clearinghouse and you make payments directly to the other parent, those direct payments may be considered as gifts to the other parent. If that is the case, you will not be given credit that you paid child support that month and may be required to pay again to the clearinghouse.

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