One of the most important issues facing divorcing spouses is the issue of child support. Most people think of child support as the amount of money one parent pays to the other parent to help financially support the children, but this is only part of the equation. Parents have a legal obligation to financially support their children and an obligation to provide for their children’s emotional, physical and psychological needs.
Child support in Arizona is determined using Arizona’s Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines provide a framework for determining a monthly monetary obligation that one parent pays to the other to ease the financial burden associated with caring for the children. There are several factors that are considered in determining who pays child support and how much. However, the two factors that most heavily influence the amount of child support that is to be paid are the income of the parties and the amount of parenting time each parent has.
The first step in calculating child support is to determine each parent’s income. This is typically determined by both parties filling out an Affidavit of Financial Information (AFI). The AFI requires each parent to provide the full disclosure of his or her income, expenses and other financial obligations. Each parent is required to provide current pay stubs, W-2s and tax information, where applicable. The AFI becomes the basis for determining each parent’s income for purposes of calculating child support. You and your spouse should include income from the following sources:
- Income from salaries
- Severance pay
- Workers’ Compensation benefits
- Capital gains
- Spousal maintenance
- Unemployment insurance benefits
Keep in mind that this is not an exhaustive list, so consult your family law attorney to learn what income sources will need to be included.
Before the amount of the child support obligation can be determined, it is also necessary to determine how much parenting time each parent will have with the children. This can be decided by the parents through an agreement or, by the court if the matter proceeds to trial. If one parent exercises more parenting time than the other, the more the other parent will typically have to pay in child support. Other factors, such as costs of insurance and daycare also influence the amount of child support under Arizona guidelines.
Once the amount of the obligation is determined an order for child supported is entered by the judge obligating one parent to pay the other monthly support. The parent obligated to pay child support has the responsibility to make sure he or she is making the payment each and every month. The court order will require that all child support payments be made through the Support Clearinghouse through Automatic Wage Assignment, meaning that the paying parent’s wages will be garnished by the Clearinghouse to make sure the support is paid. The parent receiving child support will receive his or her support payments directly from the Support Clearinghouse. This assures that the obligation is getting paid regularly each month and that the parent receiving child support is getting paid as required by the court order. Any payment not made through the Clearinghouse can be considered a gift and the paying parent may not get credit for that payment. Failure to make regular and consistent child support payments will result in a child support arrearage that will accrue interest.
At the Tiffany Fina Law Firm, we understand how important and stressful the issue of child support can be. We are committed to pursuing practical and effective solutions for our clients facing child support issues in Scottsdale and surrounding cities. We ensure our clients understand the child support process in Scottsdale and we passionately assist them in protecting what is most important to them.
Uncovered Medical Expenses
Parents have a legal obligation for the payment of uncovered medical expenses for their children. This includes co-pays, prescriptions and any other medical, dental, and/or vision costs as a result of medically necessary treatment or procedure. These expenses are not included in the child support calculation but are left to the parents to negotiate, or if they are unable or unwilling to agree, the court will decide for them. The Arizona Guidelines do not indicate that uncovered medical expenses must be divided according to parent’s incomes but instead are divided by the court in the best interest of the children.
Parents also share an obligation for child care for their children. The court will consider the federal child care tax for which the custodial parent is eligible when determining the obligation of each parent in paying for childcare expenses. Childcare expenses must be reasonable considering the parents’ financial situations.
The guidelines for child support in Scottsdale reflect the needs of most children. However, couples with handicapped or gifted children may petition the court to increase the basic support obligation based on the needs of their exceptional children.
The legal team at the Tiffany Fina Law Firm understands how important and stressful the issue of child support can be. We are committed to pursuing practical and effective solutions for our clients facing child support issues. Our legal team will make sure you understand the child support process in Scottsdale and will passionately and compassionately make sure your most important asset, your children, are being protected.
Child Support FAQ’s
- Will I have to pay child support?
Typically, yes. In Arizona, courts will always look out for the “best interests” of the children. This means that because parents have an obligation to provide “reasonable support” for their minor children, the courts will order them to support them financially.
- How is child support calculated in Arizona?
The child support obligation is calculated by the court using the parents’ gross incomes and several additional factors, including the number of children the parents have together, the ages of the children, the amount of spousal support paid or received by each party, cost of childcare and health insurance for the children and parenting time exercised by each parent.
- Will the court consider the income from my second job in my child support calculation?
Generally, the court does not consider income from a second job or overtime unless the income is “consistent and regular.”
- How is a child support order enforced if a parent is not paying?
Child support can be enforced by one of the following methods:
• Income Withholding
• Credit bureau reporting
• Offset state tax refunds
• Seizing assets
• License suspension or revocation
• Property liens
- In Arizona, does child support end when a child turns 18?
Typically, child support ends once the child has either graduated from high school or has turned 19 years of age, whichever happens first.
- When can you modify a child support order in Scottsdale AZ?
Parents can request a modification of their existing child support order, whether they are the custodial or noncustodial parent when there has been a significant and continuing change within the household. This may include adding or changing health insurance, a loss of a job, a new job, disability, or an increase or decrease in income for either parent. Typically, a modification can be requested if there is an increase or decrease in income that would cause a 15% increase or decrease in the child support amount paid.
- How do I modify a child support order in Scottsdale AZ?
To make changes to the child support amount, you can file a Petition to Modify Child Support with the court.
- When is the start date for temporary child support in Arizona?
It is recommended that once you and your spouse have decided to divorce, you reach an agreement about how expenses will be shared until your divorce is final. If this is not an option, you can go to court to request a temporary child support order from a judge. Once the request is correctly filed, a hearing will be scheduled within days or weeks and a judge will issue his or her decision.