If you feel like the cost of child care has risen in recent years, you’re not imagining things. The cost of child care has been steadily rising even before the pandemic, but COVID-19 has made a bad situation worse. Here is everything you need to know about rising child care costs, the impact on divorced parents, and how to address it.
Evidence for Rising Child Care Costs in Arizona
You may have seen news reports in recent months about how much Arizona child care costs have risen. The Economic Policy Institute reported recently that infant care in Arizona averages $10,948 a year, or $912 a month. To put that into perspective, a year of infant care costs more than putting your child through a year of college. The cost of preschool-aged child care isn’t much less, averaging $8,547 a year or $712 a month, meaning that by the time kids start public school, their parents can easily have spent close to $50,000 in child care, per kid.
The Impact on Divorced Arizona Parents
The impact on traditional, two-parent Arizona families has been difficult enough. Local news stations have reported on families making the decision to transition to a single income, with the higher-earning parent supporting the family while the lower-earning parent quits their job and stays home with the kids. The family might sacrifice a little of their earning power, but since so much of the second income was funneled into childcare, the financial sacrifice isn’t as great as it would initially seem.
For two-parent homes, it might make sense for one parent to stay home to care for the children, but for most divorced parents, this is an impossibility. With two completely separate households to support, both parents must work. Unless one or both parents have family that can help provide free or low cost care, the cost of child care can be a difficult and unavoidable burden on divorced parents.
What You Can Do
The rising cost of Arizona child care is daunting, and unfortunately there isn’t much you can do, other than finding alternative options and minimizing your costs as much as possible. One thing you can do, however, is to ensure that your child custody plan addresses the cost of child care and divides the expenses as fairly as possible.
In Arizona, child care costs are typically assessed as separate to general child support. Child support is intended to cover a child’s basic needs and to support the same standard of living the child had prior to the parents’ breakup. Child care is therefore tallied separately, and needs to be addressed in the legal parenting plan to ensure an equitable arrangement. Make sure your parenting plan breaks down the typical child care costs and who is expected to pay for what.
If you are a single parent feeling the pressure from rising child care costs, don’t wait to act. The sooner you seek an amendment to your parenting plan, the better. Adjusting your parenting plan can establish written expectations for who will pay child care costs, especially if they continue to rise. If you need help navigating the system, or if you want to be sure that everything is done correctly, contact Simon Law Group, PLLC, today to schedule a consultation of your case.