Child support is designed to ensure that the best interests
and needs of the children are met.
Child support is calculated based on a formula mandated by the Arizona Supreme
Court and set forth in the
Arizona Child Support Guidelines. The results of the
formula usually dictate the amount of child support you will pay. The actual
amount, however, may go up or down according to your specific circumstances (see
"Child Support Calculator").
If both parties agree on the figures to be used in the formula, the calculation
can be straightforward. At a minimum, the following information is needed:
Mother's gross monthly income
Father's gross monthly income
Whether either parent has children from other relationships
Whether any spousal maintenance is being paid between the parties
The number of children, and if any children are age 12 or older
The monthly premium cost of medical (and dental and vision) insurance that is
attributable to just the children
Child care/day care costs
The parenting time schedule
Other factors may include the costs of long distance parenting time and special
needs for the children.
The numbers are then put into the formula to calculate child support based on
the information. The calculations will yield a percentage of each party's income
to the combined total of both parties' incomes. For example, if Mother's monthly
gross income is $3,000 per month, and Father's monthly gross income is $2,000
per month, then Mother's percentage would be 60% of both parties' total incomes.
This percentage is used to allocate the tax benefits attributable to the minor
child(ren) and also to determine how much each parent must pay for uncovered
medical expenses (such as co-pays, deductibles, etc.) for the child(ren)'s
Child Support Disputes
Disputes can arise over what figures to utilize in the formula. For example,
determining a parent's gross monthly income is fairly easy if the parent
receives W-2 wages, but it can become complicated if either parent is
self-employed or if one party attempts to hide assets or conceal income. In
addition, you need to properly calculate the annual parenting time days, the
true cost of insurance that is attributable to the children and verify the true
cost of child care.
Our family law attorneys will take the necessary steps to ensure that all
pertinent information is discovered and disclosed, and that the child support
amount is properly calculated.
We are able to assist in child support matters that are included in any divorce or
paternity case involving minor children. We can also assist in post-decree
matters involving the modification and enforcement of child support, including
challenging or establishing the amount of any child support arrearage.
Divorce agreements and decrees can be modified by agreement
or court order concerning the provisions governing legal decision-making, parenting
time, child support and, in some cases, spousal maintenance. However, such agreements and court
orders regarding property and debt division are usually not modifiable. As your
situation changes, certain terms of your divorce agreement or divorce decree can
be adjusted to reflect new circumstances.
Child support can also be modified based on changes to the
parental decision-making arrangement. For example, if the custodial parent
becomes unfit due to alcoholism, drug addiction or mental illness, we would seek
to modify the decision-making and parenting time arrangement. A change in which
parent provides primary care for the child(ren) could also result in a change in
which parent pays child support and the amount of child support paid.
For more than 45 years, our family law attorneys have protected and advanced the
rights of parents as they move through a divorce or child-related legal dispute.
We have the knowledge to help you address all issues involved in properly
determining the correct child support amount.