Raising a child is expensive, as we all know. Unfortunately, when two parents split up, the expense may unfairly burden one parent more than the other. To compensate, Arizona courts try to divide the expense more fairly. Here are a few common questions about Arizona child support.
What is the goal of child support?
It’s important to remember that just like with child custody, the purpose of child support is to meet the best interests of the child. The Arizona courts’ goal is always to prioritize the child. In cases of child support, the goal is to maintain the same standard of living that the child enjoyed before the parents split up. The math of how to achieve this changes based on each parent’s income, the difference between incomes, and how much time the child spends with each parent.
How does Arizona calculate child support?
Arizona calculates child support based on the parents’ incomes. Since the goal is to maintain the same quality of life as the child had before the divorce, a basic support amount is determined based on the combined incomes. Once the basic level of support is determined, the amount is adjusted based on comparisons between the two parents’ incomes and the percentage of custody each parent has. Child support orders will also indicate which parent must provide health insurance, and can determine how to divide additional expenses, such as medical, child care, or educational costs. The complicated calculations is a big part of why we recommend legal guidance and representation while you seek child support.
What if we agree to 50/50 custody?
A common plan to avoid child support is to share parenting time equally. Unfortunately, the court has the final say in any such plans, and as we’ve already discussed, Arizona courts put the best interests of the child first in any decision. If you and your co-partner have comparable incomes, the plan of splitting everything evenly and avoiding child support obligations may work. If your incomes are different, however, the higher-earning parent will likely be ordered to pay some child support to compensate for the difference, even if parenting time and responsibilities are split equally.
How do I file for child support?
Before you file for child support, you may need to establish paternity if you weren’t married to your co-parent at the time of the child’s birth. Once that is done, you will need to gather the pertinent documents and complete an application form to be submitted to the court. At minimum you’ll need:
- Your child(ren)’s birth certificates
- Your marriage license and divorce paperwork, if applicable
- Documents establishing paternity, if required
- Any existing or previous support orders
- Your co-parent’s social security number, if available
- Your co-parent’s most recent employer
- A completed request for child support application form
Can a support order be changed?
Sometimes a support order may need to be changed, usually because of a significant change in one or both parents’ situations. Occasionally the support order may need to be changed due to inaccurate information in the original application, or because new information has since come to light. To qualify for a change in support order, the difference will need to be 15 percent or more of the original support order, and you will need to file a petition to modify the original support order.
The court’s requirements to apply for or modify a child support order can be complicated and intimidating, to say the least. Fortunately, you don’t have to do it alone! For help with your child support case, contact Simon Law Group, PLLC, today.