Arizona State House Passes Bill Aimed at Helping Mothers Receive Additional Child Support

Arizona State Representative Matt Gress (R-Phoenix) announced Wednesday that House Bill (HB) 2502, aimed at providing more options for a mother to receive child support, had passed the House.

“My mom received child support for 2 of her 4 kids. It helped our family immensely: groceries, gas, utilities, clothes,” Gress tweeted. “This week, the Arizona House passed #HB2502, which will make parents who owe child support, primarily fathers, pay their FAIR SHARE from the date of pregnancy.”

Under Arizona law, the courts are authorized to order parents to pay child support in a proceeding involving the “dissolution of marriage, legal separation, maintenance or child support.” Additionally, the Arizona Supreme Court is tasked with creating a biannual guide that states how the court determines how much is required for child support.

In Arizona, child support is approximately what the parents would have paid for the child if they were still living as one family. Generally, the non-custodial parent is ordered to pay part of their monthly income to their custodial counterpart. U.S. Census Bureau data shows that mothers are more likely to be a custodial parent than fathers.

However, if a court had not ordered child support during the divorce proceeding but later deemed it appropriate, in that case, the court retroactively requires the non-custodial parent to pay dues they would have paid starting from the date of the dissolution.

Should Gress’s bill become law, it could change the date to which retrospective child support can be applied. Specifically, courts could consider the date of a positive pregnancy test, confirmed by a licensed medical professional, if this occurred before the date of the divorce. Yet, if the court chooses this date, it must consider all “temporary or voluntary support that has been paid” since the pregnancy began when calculating how much the parent owes.

When it came time to defend his bill on the House floor, Gress said its purpose is to help families and ensure that non-custodial parents take responsibility for all expenses involving the child.

“Now, I want to make it clear that, at the end of the day, we are trying to support families here. We’re trying to support primarily single women who have kids who are trying to make ends meet,” Gress said. “We’re saying that if a father is deemed by the court to be the biological father of the child, they are responsible for the costs and care of that baby, and there are costs that occur before that baby is born.”

However, House Democrats were less enthused with the bill. State Representative Athena Salman (D-Tempe) argued that this bill would give rights to a fetus and is an anti-abortion bill in disguise, meant to further restrict a woman’s choices when pregnant. State Representative Analise Ortiz (D-Phoenix) also argued that if legislators truly wanted to help financially struggling single mothers, they would make laws to increase the minimum wage or allow for paid medical leave.

Nonetheless, State Representative Alexander Kolodin (R-Scottsdale) refuted the arguments across the aisle, arguing that the bill would not restrict women but recognize the importance of child-rearing.

“I challenge you to find me one normal person, who’s going through pregnancy alone, who couldn’t use a little more money,” Kolodin said.

Ultimately, while the bill still passed and was sent off to the Senate, it was on party lines alone, with no Democrats giving the bill support.

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Neil Jones is a reporter for The Arizona Sun Times and The Star News Network. Follow Neil on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].




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