How to Enforce a Court Order to Pay Child Support

Taylor House

Written by

Child Support Lawyer - Gilbert, AZ

Contributor Level 13

Posted over 1 year ago. Applies to Arizona, 4 helpful votes



File a Petition to Enforce

This type of petition can be prepared by your attorney or using a form downloaded from the court website. The petition states the current court order in effect and the amount and time period of child support past due. The petition should also request certain orders from the court, including ordering the other person to come current with past due support, finding the other party in contempt (which may result in incarceration), or the entry of an Income Withholding Order which will garnish the other party's wages. All petitions to enforce or modify are required to be filed under oath (an attachment to the petition signed by you and notarized stating that the contents of the document are true and correct.


Obtain Order to Appear

After filing the petition with the Clerk of Court, you must get an Order to Appear. If you have an attorney, they will prepare the Order to Appear and submit it to the judge to set a hearing. If you are unrepresented, you need to get an Order to Appear from the Family Court Conference Center, which will tell you what information you need to bring to court and the date and time of your conference and hearing.


Serve the Order to Appear

In order for the court to find the other party in contempt or enter any orders against the other party, they must be properly notified of the hearing. This is done by "serving" the other party with a copy of the filed (conformed) petition and Order to Appear. You may serve the other party with a licensed process server or by return receipt mail or commercial delivery service where you can obtain a copy of the other party's signature of receipt to file with the court. You don't need proof of delivery and can hand-deliver the documents if the other party will sign an Acceptance of Service, which must be notarized by the receiving party and filed with the court.


How to File the Petition

When filing the petition with the clerk, you should have an original and three copies of the Petition to Enforce and any required attachments. The original will be filed with the clerk and the copies will be "conformed" or stamped by the clerk to show the filing date. One copy is for the Family Court Conference Center, one is for serving on the opposing party, and the last is for your own records. Take the filed petition to the Family Court Conference Center and they will schedule a conference and hearing, and issue an Order to Appear.


Serve the Papers on the Other Party

Service can be accomplished by a license process server, certified mail or other commercial delivery service. If either party has a case with DES involving the same children in this case, notice must also be given to the Office of the Attorney General.


Attend the Conference or Hearing

Once you've filed the petition to enforce and served the Order to Appear on the other party, you need to show up at the scheduled hearing and comply with any other instructions provided by the court or the Family Conference Center. Typically the court will set an "order to show cause" hearing after receiving a petition to enforce. At the conference or hearing, the judge can enters a number of orders designed to get the other party to come current with their support payments, including incarceration as a last resort.

Additional Resources

To Enforce a Court Order to Pay - Forms & Instructions (PDF)

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