Arizona law requires custodial and non-custodial parents to provide “reasonable support” for their minor children. This obligation is not something you can avoid. The Arizona Supreme Court has adopted a set of guidelines to calculate the amount of monthly support owed by each parent. However, the detailed explanation that is listed on the court’s website is confusing. To help you understand these issues, we have outlined some of the important points embedded in the Guidelines. We always recommend you seek legal counsel when arranging child support payments because it is not a straightforward process.
What Are the Child Support Guidelines?
The child support guidelines approximate the amount the parents would spend on the children if the parents remained living together. Their purpose is to provide a reasonable financial plan that is consistent with the parent’s ability to pay. However, it is normally not as simple as calculating a number and both parties agreeing to it.
Situations Where the Guidelines are Complicated
While the Guidelines provide a basic method for calculating the amount of child support, there are many circumstances that can make it more difficult to apply them.1. If Someone is Self EmployedOften, a self-employed individual has income that is not as straightforward as a traditional W-2. A business owner will write off business expenses that are all too often personal expenses and it will significantly impact their reported earnings. The Guidelines address this situation by looking at exactly what is being written off for the business and determining what is also considered personal income.2. There is a $20,000 Monthly Limit
Included within the Guidelines is an amount that economists determined was appropriate as the “basic” amount of child support, depending on the number of children and the total monthly gross income of the parents. However, the guidelines also include a limit of $20,000 a month of income to be put into the calculation. This limit creates issues in high-income households where the amount of monthly gross income exceeds that amount. The Guidelines provide an opportunity for those individuals to seek an amount of child support in excess of what the Guidelines provide. However, you will need legal representation to navigate this.
3. Other Factors
There are other factors considered by the court when looking at these guidelines. These factors include adjustments for other children not common to the parties, low-income adjustment, costs of healthcare and child care, and costs associated with parenting time.
Is a Court Order Really Necessary?
Although parents are not legally obligated to obtain a child support order, the absence of one carries significant consequences. If one party files for support, they can put in a request that goes back years leaving the person who is paying with a hefty bill. Also, it is hard to document the money you have spent on your child retroactively, so a lot of times this is discounted as well. We suggest to all of our clients that they have a court-ordered arranged payment. Waiting to obtain that order is only likely to create a situation where a balance accumulates and it is often the person who is paying who is at a loss.
Contact The Law Office of Steven N Cole at (480) 333-5588 to speak with an experienced Phoenix lawyer. We will ensure you understand the child support process in Arizona and make sure all factors are considered and there is a fair payment amount totaled.