Arizona’s Best Child Support Attorneys
In Arizona, both parents of a child are legally responsible for that child’s support. If the parents were never married, separated, or divorced, either parent can ask the court to enter a child support order. The right to support belongs to the child, so it’s not affected by the conduct of either parent.
Arizona Child Support Guidelines
Like all other U.S. states, Arizona has a set of guidelines that determine the appropriate amount of child support. Arizona employs an “income shares” model to determine how much child support one parent will pay to the other. In simple terms, this means that the income of both parents is added together and the total is used to determine the full amount of support for the child. Then, each parent is responsible for a share of that total in proportion to their income.
In reality, the calculation is rarely that simple. The child support calculation takes into account many other variables.
Determining Child Support Income
The child support calculation is based on each parent’s income, but not all income is included in this calculation. For example, public benefits are not included in income. Some or all of any child support received by one parent for children of another relationship will be excluded. And, if one parent is paying court-ordered child support for children from another relationship, the amount of that support is excluded from their income.
In other words, the amount of income on your payroll records may not be the amount used to calculate child support. An experienced Arizona child support lawyer is the best source of information about what you can expect in terms of child support.
Other Costs Factored In
The basic amount of total child support based on income isn’t necessarily the number being allocated between the parents. That’s because the Arizona child support guidelines make adjustments for certain other costs, including:
- Medical insurance premiums for the child
- Childcare necessary for a parent to work or look for work
- Educational expenses necessary to meet the child’s particular needs
- Extraordinary expenses, such as additional care or assistance for a child with special needs
Child support is also adjusted on a percentage basis based on:
- The age of the children–support for a child aged 12 or older is increased by 10%
- Parenting time–the paying parent’s child support is adjusted downward based on the amount of time the children spend in their care each year
Deviation from the Child Support Guidelines
As you can see, even a “straightforward” child support calculation can be complicated. And, even when all of the listed variables are factored in, courts may sometimes deviate from the amount of support dictated by the guidelines. This can happen in two ways:
- The court may deviate from the guideline amount of child support if the parties agree, and if certain other criteria are met, such as both parties entering into the agreement voluntarily with full knowledge of the guideline amount of support, or
- The court may find that the guideline amount of support would be inappropriate in a given case. The court must consider the best interests of the children in making this determination, and make written findings in support of the deviation
Factors the court may consider in deviating from the child support guidelines include:
- One parent earning significantly more than the other while each has significant parenting time
- One parent earning significantly more than the other when the combined income is greater than $30,000/month
- Each parent has significant parenting time but one parent pays a disproportionate share of the child’s expenses
- One parent is required to incur significant travel expenses relating to parenting time and the combined cost of that travel and child support may limit the parent’s ability to exercise parenting time
- One parent has extraordinary expenses for mental or physical healthcare, and the payment of child support would impede their access to care
- A child’s unusual emotional or physical needs requiring a parent to be present in the home
This list isn’t exclusive, though. The judge can take into account any factor they consider relevant.
Child Support in High Income Cases
The Arizona child support guidelines max out at a combined income of $30,000/month. That means the guideline amount based on $30,000 in combined income is presumed to be appropriate at all income levels above $30,000–even if the parents’ combined monthly income is $100,000 or more.
The court can deviate in this situation as well, but the burden is on the parent who wants the child support increased beyond the presumed amount to show that it would be in the best interest of the child or children to do so.
Retroactive Child Support
Child support isn’t always ordered immediately when a couple separates, or when a child is born to unmarried parents. It’s generally in the children’s best interest to establish child support as soon as possible, whether that means filing a paternity action immediately after a child is born or filing for divorce right after the parties separate and asking for a temporary child support order while the divorce case is pending.
An Arizona court can make its child support order retroactive to the date a proceeding was filed. The paying spouse would owe child support back to the date of the filing, which the court might order paid in a lump sum or in increments across a certain time period. Although the support would be for a past time period, it wouldn’t be considered delinquent as long as the payor parent complied with the court’s order.
In some circumstances, where the parents were living apart before a legal proceeding was filed, the court may order retroactive child support back to the date of separation. However, this retroactive period may not exceed three years, no matter how long the parties lived apart without child support.
Talk to a Maricopa County Child Support Lawyer
Establishing fair child support in Arizona is much more complicated than plugging numbers into a worksheet–especially when at least one parent is a high earner or a child or one of the parents has special needs.
At Lincoln & Wenk, we know how important it is for you to ensure that your children are well cared for, while also ensuring that your own needs are met. Our experienced child support lawyers will discuss your situation in detail to ensure that all relevant factors are considered by the court.
To learn more, call 623-294-2464 right now, or fill out the contact form on this site.