When two parents or caretakers initiate a child support case, they attend court hearings to establish the monthly support amount the support payor is expected to pay. But what happens when one parent or caretaker lives in another state, tribal nation or country?
Oftentimes, many states can have a case open for the same child, known as an intergovernmental child support case. For example, in one such case, the parent receiving child support, filed for services in an East Coast state, while the court orders originated in Arizona, where the parent paying child support lived. Arizona was responsible for enforcing the court orders and collecting payments. The other state was responsible for dispersing the collected payments to the parent living in the East Coast state for the care of their child.
Attentive case workers coordinate between the state where a parent initiates a case and the state where the other parent lives. The goal is to collect and disburse child support payments quickly and smoothly so the needs of the child are met. However, intergovernmental cases are complex and can lead to miscommunication. Fortunately, the DES Division of Child Support Services (DCSS) was able to help one parent resolve an issue with his case.
Opening Communications Between States
Mark, who lives in Arizona, started to notice enforcement action being taken by the East Coast state including a tax offset notice and a levied bank account. Mark had been making consistent payments on each of his child support cases and didn’t understand why enforcement actions were taken. That’s when he contacted his DCSS case worker, Cliftina, to seek resolution. “I’ve never had a case worker who took an interest in helping not just the payee but also the payor,” said Mark. “She wanted to make sure it was equal on both sides.”
“What activated me to contact [the East Coast state] was when Mark informed me that they claimed he owed an astronomical balance,” said Cliftina. Once she reached the other state, she learned that although he was paying both support amounts, records from the East Coast state showed that he was only making payments to one of his child support cases.
Cliftina’s responsiveness to Mark’s questions and calls allowed the case to move forward. Cliftina worked for months to provide records to the other state that proved Mark had been making consistent payments. “She not only made contact but tracked down questions and concerns and built a rapport with the [East Coast state] office to ensure their records were updated,” explained Mark. Cliftina was able to set the record straight and things began to run smoothly.
In addition to her work to assure that both states were following the correct court orders, Cliftina also dedicated her time to Mark’s other child support cases.“She has been such a huge help in alleviating all of that stress.”
Decades of refining statutes and laws which govern intergovernmental cases have improved processes. Still, most cases require a lot of coordination and time to keep information up to date in each location. Expert case workers who aren’t afraid to dive deeply, like Cliftina, keep these types of cases moving. Standardized test results at an early age signified Cliftina’s natural ability for sharing knowledge with others. “I’m in this position with child support for a reason and that is to assist those who request help,” said Cliftina.”Never turn your back on a child or anyone who is in need."
Whether you have a child support case within the state, between states, or need a child support order established, DCSS has a variety of services to help both parents support their children. Learn more at des.az.gov/dcss.