Arizona Child Support-Part II-by Shannon Trezza

Arizona Child Support Guidelines Part Two

In Part One we discussed the general guidelines for child support obligations, including determining the gross, adjusted gross, and combined gross income of parents and how the basic child support amount is determined. In Part Two, we will give you information about how parenting time figures into child support obligations, travel expenses for parenting time, and gifts.


The child support guidelines adopted by the Arizona Supreme Court are based on the costs of raising children in intact households. Because costs are associated with splitting parenting time, adjustments must be made to each parent’s share of the child support obligations. When the non-custodial parent shares parenting time, only the time spent with the parent is used to adjust child support. If the child is in school or childcare, this time is not used to calculate parenting time.


If there is equal time spent with children and the adjusted gross incomes of both parents are essentially equal, no child support is paid. If the parents’ incomes are not equal, the child support amount is split equally and the parent who makes more income pays the other parent the amount needed to equal that share based on time spent with the child.


Adjustments are also made to the share of the child support obligation if one parent pays for medical insurance or childcare expenses. For example, if the parent who does not have custody pays for medical insurance through an employer, the cost of insurance is added to the basic child support amount. It is then prorated between the parents based on their proportion of the child support obligation. Because in this example, the cost is paid by the parent without custody, the amount is deducted from that parent’s child support obligation.


If the court orders child support payments when one parent is granted custody, the court assumes that the parent with custody will also spend their share of the obligation directly on the children. For example, if the father is granted custody and his share is $200 and the mother’s share is $150, it is assumed that the father will spend his $200 directly on the child. Of course it is also assumed the $150 paid by the mother will be spent on the child as well.


Even though the financial obligation of child support has priority over other financial obligations, the court will perform a test to ensure that the noncustodial parent is able to financially pay child support and maintain a minimum standard of living. The court may choose to reduce child support. The court will also look at the custodial parent’s income to ensure that he or she is able to be self-supporting. If neither parent has sufficient income to be self-supporting the court may determine whether or not to reduce the child support order. And, if there are multiple children in the family and custody is divided, the court will adjust the amount of the child support obligation.


The court can also choose to allocate travel expenses of the child where one-way travel exceeds 100 miles. The court will look at the income of both parents and how a change of residence has affected the costs of sharing parenting time. This is meant to ensure that the child has continued contact with both parents. This allocation does not change the amount of child support.


Once the court orders child support, it is to be paid in money. Gifts of clothing or other items are not meant to offset child support, unless the court orders it. If a child is placed to live with another person who is a caregiver, but not one of the parents, child support is paid to the caregiver by the parents. The child must be placed there by a state agency.


Modifications of Child Support

Either parent, or the state, can ask the court to modify child support if they are able to show a substantial and continuing change in circumstances. If under the Arizona guidelines for child support there would be a change of 15% or more from the existing child support amount, this is considered evidence for the change.


If there is a change in which parent provides medical insurance the amount of the change doesn’t have to meet that 15% threshold. If the court ordered support for more than one child and the duty to support one of the children stops, a request must be made in writing to the court to recalculate the child support obligation. These requests for modification must be made on forms approved by the Arizona Supreme Court, or on forms that are substantially similar. Arizona Statewide Paralegal will ensure that the forms used in your modification meet the requirements for the court.


Income Earned or Money Received by a Child

If a child earns income or receives money (not from child support) this money is not counted toward child support obligations paid by either parent. If child support is ordered by the court for a child past the age of 18, money earned or received by the child might be credited against the child support obligation.


When a custodial parent receives Social Security Disability or Insurance for a child and the benefits are the result of contributions made by the parent paying child support, the court may find that a credit should be given to the parent paying child support. If a parent receives any benefits directly (not for the child) this is included in the parent’s gross income if the benefits are the results of the parent’s contribution.


Federal Tax Exemption for Dependent Children

When child support is more than $1200 per year, the federal tax exemption for minor children should be split up as closely as possible to the percentages of child support being paid by each parent. If the parent who is entitled to the tax exemption would not gain any tax benefit, the exemption should be given to the other parent.


Arizona Statewide Paralegal handles all types of child support issues, including establishing, modifying, and terminating child support, as well as deviations from child support guidelines. We have the right forms accepted by the Arizona Supreme Court. We also have the software needed to calculate child support and prepare the documents for your specific case. In addition, we file all of the paperwork for you and track deadlines so the process is stress free for you. Schedule your consultation today through our website or by calling 520-327-4000 in Tucson and 602-253-1515 in Phoenix.

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