This article was last updated: Sept. 25th, 2023
Do you have just a couple years left to pay child support before your dependent turns eighteen? If so, paying off child support in one lump sum may sound appealing. By paying off your child support early, you won’t have to worry about the monthly payments anymore or having money withheld from your paycheck. Sound convinced?
Hold on a minute. The fact is that most attorneys advise against paying off child support early. This is because when the state of Arizona is involved, it typically does not go along with the deal, even if both parents are ready to sign the papers. States are reluctant to have child support paid off before the dependent turns eighteen because child support can be modified at any time, meaning the payment could be increased or reduced. Also, you need to consider that your financial situation may change in the future and that money you used to pay off child support is something you could really use.
Child Support Law Arizona
Child support is paid until the child reaches the age of eighteen. However, if he or she is still in high school at this time, the child support continues until he or she graduates or turns nineteen, whichever happens first. Also, if the child has a disability, the state may require child support be paid past the age of eighteen. Payments are determined by the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. These consist of factors that are considered when determining obligation. The most important obligation the state takes into account is the current financial needs of both the child and custodial parent. Once an amount is decided upon, this is formalized in court with a child support agreement.
Unless otherwise arranged in a divorce decree, child support payments are typically gained through income withholding. The state will collect child support payments through your employer and in turn pay the parent who is caring for the child. While this can sometimes create tension with an employer, he or she is obligated to comply and can not fire you due to the withholding.
Written Agreement for Paying off Child Support
If the state is not involved in your child support payments, you have the right to pay off the support in one lump sum that reflects the child’s current support obligation. You will need to reach an agreement with the custodial parent while keeping the best interests of the child in the forefront. It’s best to work with an attorney when writing up a draft agreement, which should include the following provisions:
- The payment is for child support and is not a gift
- The payment is a lump sum that intends to pay off your child support obligations in full
- The agreement will contain the current payments, months remaining, total owed, and total paid
These provisions must be clear and concise so there is no confusion on the part of everyone involved. All parties must sign the agreement and issue the payoff check to the clearinghouse. Never give the check to the custodial parent as this could be misconstrued as a gift rather than child support payment. It’s also important to keep a record of the payment on file.
If, however, the state of Arizona is part of the child support case, it will need to sign off on the agreement. That probably won’t happen. The state would rather continue collecting monthly payments through income withholding since your original child support agreement could change at anytime in the future.
When a Child Support Agreement is Modified
If a parent has experienced a change in circumstances, the state of Arizona has the right to modify the child support order. These circumstance may include:
- A major change in a parent’s health insurance coverage
- Loss of employment
- Substantial pay decrease
This does not include a parent quitting or getting fired from their job, however.
The biggest con of paying off child support early is the possibility of the order being modified in the future. When you pay child support in full, you are no longer able to modify or terminate the agreement. However, by keeping that lump sum in the bank, you know you have access to monthly payments and have a lump sum tucked away in case you need it. To learn more about your child support case, contact the team at The Sampair Group today. We can be reached at 623-777-3926.