Child Support Overpayment: is it Possible to get a Refund?


Overpayment of child support can be the result of a number of reasons. The child may die or drop out of school without the knowledge of the obligor, who may keep on paying child support in the initial installment amounts which included school fees. When the obligor comes to learn about it, it may be too late and they may wish to get a refund of the (extra) money from the parent they have been paying it to. Your Mesa child support lawyer will help you file a petition regarding the same.

Retroactive child support modification

Well, while it may sound irrational, Arizona law doesn’t provide for retroactive child support modifications. This means that if you have been paying extra money over a period of time with or without knowledge that circumstances had changed and child support has gone down, installments will be reduced from the day you file a modification petition. Any request pertaining extra payment made before your petition is approved will not be entertained unless the other party agrees to compensate you.

That said, the court can still order that you be paid a lump sum amount that encompasses several months leading to the day your petition is approved. This backtracking is typically allowed for the time between when you submitted the petition and when it was approved, and no further back.

If there is a pending petition in court and the other party manages to delay the hearing or the court takes too long to collect information and resolve the case, Arizona law obliges you to pay the installments in full until the final verdict is made.

Why Arizona law does not allow compensation for past overpayments?

The law is pretty unfair here if you look at it from the paying parent’s point of view. You are not aware of a modification that should significantly reduce your child support installments but still don’t get the money you have been paying to the other parent back after realizing that you have been “fleeced”.

Never mind that; the court has received your petition and taken its time (a year or so) to check the facts and finally approve the petition, but you have still not been refunded for the one year – what does that mean?

Well, apparently, that’s legal and there is some sense to it. The court does not want to compromise the child’s support by forcing the parent receiving support to compensate the paying parent using the support money. This is whether or not the money has been received by the other parent.

If the money has not been sent, the clearinghouse will keep it until the child is 18 or graduates from high school, whichever happens later. If there are any installments you skipped in the past, the money will be used to pay back that support without your consent. The remainder will be given to you when the child turns 18 or finishes high school.

That having been said, payments made after the petition has been approved will take into account the modification. Any side obligations would be unlawful.

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