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Written by Michael Juilfs

What you need to know about child support in Arizona

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If you are a parent, you know that getting a divorce is not just about you. You need to account for your children’s care too. Unfortunately, this isn’t always easy. You may go from thinking about handling their needs to thinking about child support.

Most people don’t naturally think of their kids in purely financial terms. But Arizona requires you to include support in the final order. Whether you are in collaborative divorce meetings or traditional divorce, you must factor this into your plan.

Determining the Child Support Amount

Both parents have an obligation to support their children, but when a child is in one home more than the other, or when one parent earns more than the other, one parent may be required to pay child support to the other parent. The Arizona statute includes “guidelines” that allow the parents (or the court) to create a worksheet that calculates the amount of support to be paid.

The calculation considers the parents’ combined incomes to determine a basic support obligation. The higher the combined income, the greater the basic support obligation. If either parent has other natural or adopted children in their home, or if they pay child support for other children, that is considered. In addition, if one parent pays spousal support to the other, this reduces the paying parent’s income and increases the receiving parent’s income.

Factors Courts Consider

But income is just one factor in the calculation. The child support statute in Arizona requires you to consider other pieces of the puzzle as well. For example, the cost of childcare must be taken into consideration. You must also figure into the calculation the cost of the child’s portion of health insurance. If your child has expenses related to special needs, you can include these as well.

Child support is higher if you have more than one child together. But it is not a per-child calculation (the amount for two children is not double the amount for one child). Also, how you divide parenting time makes a difference as well. The more time a child spends with one parent, the more that parent will presumably spend on the child’s basic needs (e.g. food, shelter, clothing). Sharing equal time doesn’t necessarily mean that no child support will be paid.

Discretion of the Court

Most of the time, the court will go exactly by what the worksheet calculation provides. In limited circumstances, the court has the discretion to deviate from the amount in the worksheet. For that to happen, whether you ask for a higher or lower amount than the worksheet suggests, you need to show the result of the worksheet is unfair.

This deviation depends in part on the parties. If you agree with your spouse on the proper amount, you have a better chance to get the amount you agree to rather than the worksheet amount.

Collaborative Divorce and Child Support

Collaborative divorce provides you options to help you reach a child support agreement. The process isn’t easy, of course. But when you both want to provide the best you can for your kids, that can help you work together to find common ground.

If you want to learn about child support negotiations during a collaborative divorce, contact the professionals at Best Legal Choices.