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In Arizona, all child support calculations are made using a set formula found in the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. To determine how much a parent will owe in child support, the guidelines consider several different factors, including:

(1) The Income of each parent. Even if you are not working, the Court can attribute you with income.
(2) Support you pay, or would be expected to pay, for other children.
(3) How much each parent spends on daycare or health insurance for the children.
(4) How much parenting time each parent has with the children.

A judge may deviate from the child support guidelines, awarding either more child support or less child support, if doing so would be in the best interest of the children. However, any time that the Court believes that deviation is warranted, the judge must articulate in writing what the amount would normally have been and explain how the deviation is in the child’s best interest. Word to the wise: If you have more than one child and you want to modify child support, make sure you talk to a lawyer.
Arizona has adopted Child Support Guidelines which are to be used to determine the ability to pay child support and the amount of the payments.
The obligation to pay child support is primary and all other financial obligations are secondary.
Calculated based on gross income of both of the parents, as well as medical insurance and expenses you pay for your child.

Frequently Asked Questions


How Will a Court Calculate my Income for Child Support Purposes?

In Arizona, income for child support is based off the gross income of both the parents. The court can attribute income to several different sources, including: your job; income earned from investments; income given through gifts, bonuses, or stock options; or any other form of compensation provided to you. Additionally, the court has discretion to consider employment benefits as a source of income, including healthcare costs covered by an employer or stock options given to employees as work incentives.

How Do I Modify a Child Support Order in Arizona?

In order to modify a support order, you must prove that there has been a substantial and continuing change of circumstances since the last order for child support. If either parent can show that a newer calculation of child support under the Arizona guidelines would result in an increase or decrease of 15% or more from the existing amount, this is presumed to be proof of a substantial and continuing change of circumstances. When this is the case, the party requesting modification can file a Simplified Petition for Modification of Child Support. Unless the other parent files an objection to modification, this will result in the automatic issuance of an order modifying support.

If a parent cannot show a 15% or more deviation in the support amount, they can still follow the standard procedure for modification by filing a Petition to modify child support. A hearing will then be scheduled to determine whether a substantial and continuing change in circumstances has occurred. Even if neither parent requests modification, a court must automatically consider modifying child support any time that it modifies parenting time or child custody orders.

I want to modify child support obligations that I owe from the past (retroactive). Is this possible?

If you have a court order to pay child support, the court may not be able to modify your support obligation. There is an Arizona statute that says that child support is a judgment that vests each time the child support judgment is owed. If you have one child, and you can prove the child was with you half the time, but you are paying a support obligation that reflects the child was with you only 10% of the time, then you may be able to retroactively modify your obligation. What if there is more than one child? An Arizona case says you cannot modify your obligation, because with two children, there are too many variables. As a general rule of thumb, if you think a modification is necessary on child support, act immediately. Otherwise, you may be overpaying your child support obligation, or you may not be receiving enough support.

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Peaceful Family Law was founded in 2009 with a desire to ensure the institution of family was preserved in times of conflict. Jennifer Moshier was one of the first trained collaborative law attorneys in Arizona.

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