Being a parent comes with a long list of responsibilities; you are charged with relatively minor tasks like getting your child to the bus stop on time and the much larger ones like making sure your child receives medical treatment following an injury. While state law doesn’t outline every parental obligation, it does require parents to provide financial support until a child reaches adulthood. When parents separate or divorce, there is often conflict as to how the expenses of raising a child will be shared. When parents cannot reach an agreement, the judiciary of Arizona will step in to determine a fair child custody arrangement.
In most cases, the non-custodial parent is responsible for making child support payments to the custodial parent. This is the case even if the custodial parent has a high income level because under the law children have the right to benefit from both parents’ incomes. In some cases, if neither parent has custody, both parents may be required to make support payments to a third party who is responsible for the child’s care.
The courts generally adhere to an objective process when determining the proper child support amount. In Arizona, child support is determined by a formula know as the Arizona Child Support Guidelines Formula. The calculation of support payments is based on a number of financial factors, including:
- The income of both parents
- The amount of parenting time that each parent has
- Daycare or educational costs
- Cost of health insurance
- Age of children
- Whether parents have children from a previous relationship that they are supporting
It’s important to note that while the judge presiding over your case will use the state’s formula as a guideline for his or her ruling, the court can deviate from it, if there is significant reason to do so. An experienced attorney can help you to identify all of the assets on the table, and take your specific circumstances into account, making an argument that the guidelines should be used or alternate criteria is needed for the well-being of the child and the financial health of both parents.
Enforcement of Child Support
Once the judge issues a child support order, all parties must comply with the ruling, making regular payments on a schedule set forth by the court. Unfortunately, this is not always the case and many parents are guilty of violating these orders each year. If you are struggling to collect support payments from your child’s other parent, there are actions that you can take to get the money you and your child deserve. Enforcement remedies may include the following:
- Income Withholding Order
- State Tax Refund Offset
- Asset Seizure
- Credit Bureau Reporting
- Liens on Property
- Lottery Winnings Offset
- Suspension or Revocation of Licenses
Failure to pay child support is a criminal offense, and the guilty party may be subject to state or federal prosecution for missed support payments. An experienced family law attorney can help you to identify the best course of action based on the circumstances of your case and initiate the legal proceedings to ensure you receive back child support owed to you and regular payments going forward.
Modification of Child Support
Either party can request a modification to an existing child support order provided there has been a “significant and continuing change within the household.” An example of this might be if a parent is seriously injured and can no longer work. In Arizona, only the Superior Court can grant a child support modification. If you are seeking a modification to your child support order, you should contact an experienced family law attorney who can review the current provisions of your order and see if you qualify for a modification. Your attorney will then work with you to file the appropriate forms with the Clerk of the Superior Court in the county where the original support order was determined.
The issue of child custody is a sensitive one for most parents, often resulting in emotionally charged conflicts. Whether you are just initiating the divorce process and need to consider your child support options or you are a single father looking to modify your current order, our law firm can help. With years of experience and a diverse team of professionals, we offer personalized solutions to get you the financial support you need to raise your child. Call us at 480-351-4804 to schedule your free consultation.