Nothing is more important than providing for and protecting your child, whether or not you and your spouse are together. That’s why it’s important to establish child support that ensures your child has everything they need to grow and thrive.
Child support can be fraught with conflict and difficulty because it is closely tied to parenting time and custody issues. However, at its core, it’s a simple calculation that doesn’t have much wiggle room based on the parents’ incomes and the time children spend in each household. This amount is determined by the Arizona Child Support Guidelines, which the Supreme Court of Arizona reviews every four years to ensure that it meets current needs.
Calculating Child Support
Although the exact amount of child support payments can be fixed and inflexible, many complicated issues surround the establishment of child support. You may be responsible for child support payments whether or not you were married to the child’s parent. You may need to prove paternity, establish custody arrangements, or understand more about income parameters to reach an agreement about child support payments. You may also need to modify child support arrangements or set conditional plans for enforcing child support payments as time goes by.
Our experienced child support attorneys can help you calculate and finalize child support arrangements and conditions in order to ensure you have a smooth process and that your children are given every opportunity they deserve. Contact us to set up a free consultation and learn more about your options.
When to Establish Child Support Payments
Arizona law dictates that children should receive support from both parents equivalent to that which they would have received if the parents resided together. As soon as it is clear that the parents will not be living under one roof and mutually providing for the child’s needs, the parents should work to establish this balance. Arizona requires child support to officially begin as soon as a separation or divorce begins, so it is crucial to contact a skilled child support attorney immediately.
Understanding How Arizona Courts Calculate Child Support Payments
In the state of Arizona, Arizona Child Support Guidelines set individual child support payment amounts. These guidelines, established by Arizona’s Supreme Court, lay out the groundwork necessary to ensure the adequate care of each child involved. The guidelines also confirm that each parent contributes a sufficient amount of their assets and income to care for their children.
In accordance with the Arizona Child Support Guidelines, the Family Court uses an official Child Support Calculator to determine exactly how much each parent should pay in child support. The Child Support Calculator is a preprogrammed spreadsheet that accounts for various factors when calculating child support payments, such as pre-tax income from each parent, medical insurance for the child, the parenting schedule, and more.
What Specific Factors Are Considered When Determining Child Support Amounts?
Determining how much child support each parent should pay involves multiple considerations by Arizona Family Court. Understanding the factors that go into these calculations, as well as what they mean, can help you ensure that the court has established an adequate child support payment in your case.
ARS 25-320(D) lays out the criteria that must be considered in the calculation of child support payments. Criteria include:
- The child’s basic needs, including food and shelter
- The child’s existing resources
- Each parent’s income and respective assets
- Which parent has physical custody
- The established parenting plan
- The needs and resources of the child
- The child’s education and supporting supplies
- The child’s theoretical quality of life, in the case that the parents have not separated yet
- The financial situation of the non-custodial parent
- Which parent is sponsoring the child’s health insurance
- The child’s health, vision, and dental insurance costs
- Any outstanding or special needs the child may have
- The child’s current state of health, both physically and mentally
While these are the factors taken into account for calculating child support as a general rule, each Phoenix child support case is different. If you are concerned that you have extenuating factors that may affect child support, or if you have further questions about how these numbers will be tabulated for your case, it is essential to contact an experienced child support lawyer.
Essential Services of Attorneys for Child Support in AZ
In Arizona, child support attorneys fulfill many responsibilities when it comes to establishing a fair child support amount and ensuring the future of your family.
Some of the services a Phoenix child support attorney may offer include:
- Calculating child support amounts – A lawyer who has experience with calculating child support payments from each parent using Arizona’s guidelines can help you estimate what the amounts calculated for your child support case might be. As a result, an attorney can help ensure that you receive an adequate amount based on these guidelines.
- Amending child support payments – In the event that factors such as the other parent’s income, your child’s health, or your parenting schedule have changed, child support may need to be updated accordingly. A lawyer can help you request an amendment based on your new circumstances.
- Representing you in court – An experienced Arizona child support lawyer can advocate for you in court, whether you are establishing initial child support or requesting an amendment. Attorney representation can ensure that you receive the child support payments you deserve to care for your children.
- Making sure child support payments are enforced – If you are not receiving your monthly child support amounts on time, or if child support remains unpaid, you can work with a child support lawyer. A lawyer can help you enforce child support payments by petitioning the court, which may hold the other parent in contempt, garnish pay, place a lien against their property, or even require jail time.
- Helping you come to a child support amount agreement – A Phoenix attorney who is skilled in mediation and child support law can help you and your child’s other parent come to an agreement regarding child support and parenting time outside of court. Coming to such an agreement can help you present a plan for approval by a Family Court judge and expedite litigation.
- Providing you with legal information and advice – A sound attorney can keep you informed on the legal situation in Arizona regarding child support and help you map out the best plan forward for your family.
- Preparing and filing documents – Throughout the child support process, you will need to prepare and file a large quantity of paperwork. A lawyer can help you complete your filings the right way the first time so you don’t lose any unnecessary time on small mistakes.
Whether you anticipate a complex and drawn-out child support case or simply need to request an amendment, an Arizona child support lawyer can help you with your various needs.
Enforcing Child Support Payments
Under ARS 25-501, each parent is required to contribute to the well-being of their child. This means that if they have adequate assets and meet requirements for the other factors mentioned above, the non-custodial parent is typically required to pay child support. In particular, the named parent is required to pay the child support amount calculated as ordered by the court. These payment amounts should cover key costs associated with the upbringing of a child, such as school fees, healthcare insurance coverage, meal costs, clothing, utilities, and housing.
Typically, the parent who spends more time with the child, based on the parenting plan, will receive child support from the other parent to account for the rest of the child’s expenses. It’s important to keep in mind that if one spouse makes significantly more money, they will typically be expected to pay more child support, regardless of the parenting time arrangement.
Parents are required by law to pay child support payments to the receiving parent. If they are behind on payments or paying below the required amount, contact a child support lawyer. Once payments are overdue by at least 30 days, an attorney can help you draft a petition for contempt to enforce payments.
The court can enforce jail time or may impose a number of penalties designed to induce payment, including:
- Revocation of driver’s and professional licenses
- Garnishment of wages, tax returns, or benefits
- Seizure of bank accounts
- Property liens
- Negative credit ratings
Child Support Payments and Moving States
Each state court typically assumes the decisions of other state courts are valid and optimal. For that reason, if a parent decides to move to another state, but Arizona courts ruled that they must pay a certain amount of child support monthly, they will still be obligated to do so from the other state. It is illegal to try to escape child support payments by moving to another state. In the state of Arizona, individuals charged with trying to evade paying child support face a maximum of two years in jail.
If your child’s other parent moves to a state outside of Arizona and they need to update child support payment amounts due to changing financial circumstances, they must work with the original court that issued the orders in Arizona. If you have relocated with your children to a new state, the child support payment jurisdiction may change. Upon registration in the new domicile, check with your local government to see what the protocol is for updating child support. If you and the child’s other parent have both left the state that created the child support order, a child support lawyer is a crucial resource to help with complex issues related to moving and child support.
Determining The Amount of Time Child Support Payments Will Last
In the state of Arizona, child support payments are obligatory until the last-born child becomes 19 or finishes high school – whichever event occurs first. If you have multiple children, child support payments will decrease as each child stops qualifying.
Put another way, each child will age out of their respective child support status as they:
- Turn 18
- Graduate high school, if they turned 18 while still in high school
- Turn 19, if high school graduation occurs after their 19th birthday
Some divorce orders include agreements by the spouses or the court that child support should be paid until the youngest child finishes college. In addition, in cases where a child has severe disabilities, the parent may receive child support long after that child turns 18. If you are receiving child support payments for your children in Phoenix, a dedicated child support attorney can help you determine how long payments will continue.
Children With Disabilities and Child Support
As mentioned, additional child support may be necessary in cases of children with disabilities. If a child is disabled as a minor to the point that they cannot complete everyday tasks on their own or earn a livelihood, the parent of that child may have a right to continued child support after the disabled child turns 18. In the state of Arizona, ARS 25-320(E) guarantees this support for parents of disabled children. If you are the parent of a disabled child and are unsure about how to ensure that you will keep receiving payments after your child turns 18, you should work with a skilled child support lawyer.
Arizona Child Support FAQs
The following are some of the most common questions we receive regarding child support in Arizona.
Let Us Help You Ensure The Protection and Support of Your Child
Having the feeling that your child is facing the threat of losing financial protection can be devastating and frightening. Fortunately, the skilled attorneys at The Valley Law Group can help you establish and keep the child support you need to ensure that your child has a safe and enriched upbringing. Our team has years of experience fighting tirelessly for parents like you in the Phoenix area.