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Arizona Child Support
Child Support in Arizona
Child support is described in Arizona Revised Statutes Annotated; Title 25, Chapters 320, 322, and 500+.
The court may order either parent to pay child support, without regard to marital misconduct. In ordering support, the court considers the following factors:
Child support is paid through the court unless the spouses agree otherwise.
Every child support order must assign either or both of the parents the responsibility of medical insurance coverage for the child and for payment of any uninsured medical expenses.
Unless there is contrary evidence presented in court, the court will assume that the noncustodial parent is capable of full-time work at the Federal minimum wage (unless the parent is under 18 years of age and attending high-school).
Arizona Child Support Guidelines
The Arizona Income Shares Model calculates support by estimating the amount of money that would have been available to the children if the marriage had not faltered. This estimated amount is then divided proportionally according to each parent's income. This is easily done by using the Arizona child support worksheet and the estimated incomes are typically substantiated by past pay records. The total child support amount approximates the amount that would have been spent on the children if the parents and children were living together. Each parent contributes his or her proportionate share of the total child support amount.
This routine is used by many states to establish the child support amount of each child rather than what it actually costs to raise a child. Income shares tables calculating child support are not based directly on actual spending on children but rather on indirect estimates of child costs. Income shares assumes that child costs reflect the spending necessary to restore a family's standard of living back to what it was before prior to the divorce or having a child.
If the father has a higher income than the mother, he would then be responsible for the greater portion of the child support obligation. Conversely, if the father has a lower income than the mother, he would then be responsible for the smaller portion of the child support obligation. As a reminder, the child support obligation can manifest itself differently between a custodial and a noncustodial parent.
Except for overtime pay, Arizona includes income from all sources - salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, severance, retirement funds, pensions, gifts, and disability payment, benefits and expenses reimbursement - when calculating child support. If a parent is unemployed without good reason, the court imputes income to at least the minimum wage.
Allowed expenses are used to adjust gross income, then the adjusted gross income is used to calculate basic support. The court makes certain that the noncustodial parent can afford the child support.
The Arizona Child Support Guidelines now take parenting time into considering because in recent years more divorced parents practice joint parenting. For example, the amount of child support is reduced by the amount of time the child spends with the noncustodial parent.
No child support is paid when parenting time and parents' income is equal.
The plan should include the child's medical support needs, the availability of medical insurance or services provided by the Arizona health care cost containment system and whether a cash medical support order is necessary.
Other Expenses and Deductions
Extraordinary expenses are either add-ons, where the expense is added to the support payment, or deductions, where the amount is deducted, and indicated as either mandatory or permissive.
Extraordinary medical expenses are a mandatory deduction. Childcare expenses are permissive deductions. Private school tuition is a permissive add on and deviation factor. Adjustments are also made to reflect the contributions of each parent to medical insurance or child care costs, so that if one parent is paying the entire amount, the child support award is adjusted so that the other parent's proportionate percentage is factored.
Adjustments to income include spousal maintenance, i.e., reductions are made in the income of the spouse paying alimony and increases are made in the income of the party receiving it; reductions are made in consideration of other children who are not part of the support award.
The court must order one of the parents to provide medical insurance coverage, although both parents generally share the cost through the overall child support calculation. The cost for such insurance is divided pursuant to income and child support contributions. The courts generally assign each parent a percentage he or she is required to pay toward uncovered health care expenses. Such is based again on the percentage of adjusted income/child support contribution.
Childcare costs are divided proportionate to adjusted income/child support contributions. One party is generally assigned the overall cost, but then the other parent pays their portion through the final child support calculation. Tax credits for childcare costs are included in the final calculations so that both parties share such benefits even if only one party can claim it on his or her tax returns.
Child Support Enforcement
A party may always retain a lawyer to pursue a child support problem.
Arizona law also permits an appellant to take advantage of the services offered by the Arizona Department of Economic Security Division of Child Support Enforcement. The division will obtain a child support order and assist in enforcing payments of child support. The Division maintains offices throughout the state of Arizona. Offices may be located by calling 800-882-4151.
More information about Arizona Child Support Enforcement can also be found at their website.
Child support must be paid until the child attains a majority unless the child attends high school, but only until age 19, or if the child is severely mentally or physically disabled and cannot be self-supporting.
The Court may deviate from the Child Support Guidelines if their application would be inappropriate or unjust in the particular case, particularly when considering the best interests of the child and other procedural requirements. The Court may consider what the children's standard of living would have been in an intact household and adjust the child support amount so that the parents provide a similar standard of living for the children in both of the new households. The Court has a great deal of discretion in providing for an upward or downwards deviation in child support.
Private school costs may be included in the overall child support calculations. However, this must generally be ordered by the Court or agreed upon by the parents.
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"A Plain English Guide to Protecting Your Children"
Author: Mary L. Boland, Attorney at Law
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