In the midst of this strange and terrible time, one bright spot is the pending high school graduations for thousands of seniors across Pima County. Parents who owe child support obligations for a graduating senior need to be aware of a few things.
First, under most circumstances, Arizona defines emancipation of a child for child support purposes as when a child is both eighteen years old and has graduated from high school. The majority of high school seniors are therefore considered emancipated as of May 31, 2020. If a graduating senior has a summer birthday, the emancipation date for child support is the last date of the birthday month. The child support obligation for a child ends when the child emancipates.
However, despite the inclusion of a presumptive termination date in child support paperwork, the court does nothing to stop a child support obligation on its own. It is the obligation of the parent to bring the child’s emancipation to the court’s attention. The parent must request termination of the ongoing obligation if the graduating senior is the only child covered by the support obligation. If there is a younger sibling also covered by the support obligation, requesting a modification may be appropriate.
If the requisite paperwork is not filed, and the support obligation is automatically withheld from a parent’s wages pursuant to an Income Withholding Order, the payments will continue to be automatically withheld after the support obligation ends. Once that money is disbursed, it can be difficult to get it back. It is important to request support terminations or modifications before emancipation so the appropriate paperwork is in place in time to stop the child support from being automatically withheld.
Please contact McNorton Fox PLLC to schedule a consultation to discuss your specific child support situation. We remain open for business and advocating for our clients.