Arizona Divorce FAQ’s – Child Support

This is about child support in Arizona after divorce, including how child support gets figured, how parents can change child support, when the court orders for child support to be withheld from paychecks, and when the court will deviate from child support guidelines in Arizona.

This information is from Alexander Nirenstein, the DivorceInfo Network Lawyer for Arizona. Click here to visit his firm’s web site.

How does child support get figured?

Arizona has adopted the Arizona Child Support Guidelines.  By these Guidelines child support is calculated using the incomes of the parents, the number of children, the visitation of the parent, and other factors, such as medical insurance and day care costs.  The Guidelines were established based on what it costs to raise children in Arizona pursuant to the parents’ income.  The higher a parent’s income is the greater their child support will be.  The more time the visiting parent has with the children the greater the child support will be reduced by a visitation credit.  Although the Guidelines are just guidelines the Arizona court rarely deviates from the amount calculated using the Guidelines.  Of course parents can reach their own agreements regarding child support and the court will approve the agreement if the child support amount is in the best interest of the children.

How do you change child support?

Either party can request a change to the child support amount.  Obviously a parent will  want to change child support when the parent’s income increases or decreases, or when a child is emancipated (turned 18 years of age and is out of high school).  If a parent paying or receiving child support later has another child this too can warrant a change in the child support amount.  Other changes that can warrant a modification to child support are a change in visitation time, day care costs and insurance costs.  Normally the court will not change child support if the new amount is less then 15% of what the current child support amount is.  To change child support a  parent needs to file a request to make the change with the court.

Does child support get deducted from the payor’s paycheck? How?

In Arizona the court will order that the child support payments be deducted directly from payer’s paycheck and sent to the payee by the employer.  This is called a wage assignment, the effect is similar to a garnishment.  Child support payments are processed through the Arizona Support Clearinghouse which keeps an accounting of all payments received and disbursed.  Parents can request a copy of the accounting for a small fee.

When will the court allow a deviation from the guidelines?

In Arizona, the Child Support Guidelines do permit for the parties and the court to deviate from Guidelines and order an amount of child support difference (higher or lower) than the child support amount calculated using the Guidelines.   Some times the parties may agree to a child support amount based on their incomes and expenses for the child and together come up with an amount without even considering the Guidelines, granted though this is rare.   Deviations may also be warranted if the parent paying the child support (the payer) is picking up other expenses either for the other parent or child and the parties agree to a lower amount.  Like custody and visitation, the court applies a “best interest of the child” standard to determine if the deviation to child support should be ordered.  Most deviations are agreed to by the parties and typically the court will approve the deviation.

Other issues in Arizona:

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