Why It May Make Sense to Mediate When One Party is Behind on Child Support

Whether you are the party who is not current on his/her child support obligation, or the party who is due the funds, there may be very good reasons to mediate the matter and reach an agreement out of court.

First, I will address the party who owes the money:  There can be very serious consequences to not paying child support.  If the other party (or the Department of Economic Security, if it is involved), files an enforcement action or contempt action, and the Court finds you had the ability to pay more than you have paid in child support, you could face serious sanctions.  You could also be incarcerated, subject to a purge amount.  If you invite the other parent to mediate, you may be able to negotiate a payment plan or other mutually agreeable arrangement and avoid the cost and risk of litigation.

Now, I am addressing the parent due the child support:  What do you have to gain by mediating, rather than litigating the matter?  First, there is no guarantee that the Court will find that the other parent had the ability to pay the amount due.  In that case, while the other parent will still owe you the unpaid amount, the court action may not produce dramatic results.  Second, people who agree to orders are more likely to comply with them, compared to people that have orders imposed on them.   It is not necessarily easy to collect on judgments when the other party is uncooperative.

To both parties, I say:  if you can reach an agreement and minimize conflict between the two of you, your child or children will be the biggest benefactors.  Conflict between parents can significantly damage children, according to research.   I discuss these findings in an earlier article found at:  https://azmediator.com/divorce-in-arizona/.

The mediated agreement can be turned into a proposed Order for the Court to sign, so the parties end up with as binding an order as litigation can produce.  The difference is that, with mediation, the parties arrive at their own mutually agreeable solution in an amicable fashion.

Alona M. Gottfried is a family law mediator and attorney in Arizona.  If you have questions about mediation, she can be reached at: 480-998-1500 or alona@sglawaz.com.  This is a general interest article only and is not intended to be legal advice.  See a legal professional before making legal decisions. 

Simmons & Gottfried, PLLC
8160 E. Butherus Dr., Suite #7
Scottsdale, AZ 85260

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