If you are a parent who just went through divorce and worries about child care costs, you may have numerous questions on the state’s family law and child support enforcement guidelines in Arizona. This guide will answer four frequently asked questions (FAQs) on support calculations, amount variations based on the type of legal custody and who the custodial parent is, factors affecting a parent’s payment obligation, and conditions that warrant modification in the terms of child support.

How is the amount of child support calculated?

Based on the latest figures from the 2015 US Census Bureau, the average monthly child support payment across the United States is US$480. However, each state follows its own guidelines in enforcing the U.S. Federal Law on Child Support. Calculating how much payment is owed, and which parent pays the child support amount, considers multiple factors such as the type of legal custody, parent’s net income, expenses, as well as the family’s living conditions prior to the divorce, among others.

The family court gets the payer’s net income by calculating his earnings from all sources and then removing mandatory deductions such as health care, insurance, social security costs, and income tax. Some courts even account for costs of necessities such as food, clothing, and mortgage before arriving at the final amount in the court order.

How is child support affected by the type of legal custody?

Child Support in ArizonaAlthough child support payments vary between full custody and joint custody, both follow the support enforcement rules set by the state which has jurisdiction over the case. There are online tools that can be used, such as the child support calculator on the Arizona Department of Economic Security website, to calculate the amount that will cover child care costs. For a parent with sole custody, here is a sample online calculation from the site: If the father earns US$2,000 a month and has two children living under the care of their mother, the non-custodial parent would pay US$500 to the custodial parent every month. Based on the same site, the payor will increase support to US$614 once the children reach 12 years of age.

On the other hand, for joint custody cases, determining the value for child support is more complicated. One way to know how much is due is by getting the difference between the monthly support that each parent would have paid if the child were under sole custody. In a scenario where the mother has an annual income of US$20,000 and the father US$30,000, the latter would have paid the other parent US$463 a month had she been the sole custodial parent, while the mother would have paid the father US$323 a month had he been the custodian. Applying these figures in a shared custody case, one has to compute for the difference, which is US$140 ($463-$323), to get the child support payment expected in a month.

What factors affect a parent’s child support obligation?

Arizona’s Child Support Guidelines consider the following factors in deciding who pays child support and how much: income of the custodial parent, parenting time, the child’s needs for education, health insurance, daycare or special needs; pre-divorce standard of living, whether the family has one child or six children, and whether the kid is under full or joint custody. To give courts a clear view of the case, each divorcing parent is asked to submit a financial statement.

Is it possible to change a child support order?

A modification in the terms of child support is possible if both pare nts come to an agreement, but shall only be legally enforceable if a judge approves of it. However, if both parties cannot agree, a parent may file a request for a court hearing to present arguments regarding the proposed changes. The following factors may support a petition to modify terms of child support: medical expenses in emergency cases, financial distress leading to one’s temporary inability to pay, changes in parental income, job loss, alterations in living costs, and changes in child care costs and needs.

If you have other questions that were not covered by this guide, know someone looking for ways to claim unpaid child support, or wish to know how much you are obligated to pay, it would be best to seek legal advice from experienced child support lawyers at Zolman Law, the #1 rated law firm in Maricopa County, Arizona. Our attorneys can provide you insights and respond to queries about paying child support. Call us now at (480) 418-2917 for a free initial consultation.