Child support in Arizona: What every parent should know
Family law courts in Arizona may order child support payments to ensure that both parents fulfill their financial obligations toward their children.
As most parents in Arizona will attest, raising a child can be an expensive, albeit rewarding, undertaking. Often, both parents share the responsibility of providing for their child, and his or her needs. In situations when a child does not reside with one or both parents, family law court judges may order child support awards. These payments are generally ordered to ensure that custodial and non-custodial parents satisfy their financial obligations as parents.
According to the Arizona Supreme Court, child support is a monetary payment paid from one parent to another. These payments are meant to provide for a child's educational, living and medical expenses.
Child support guidelines
The Arizona Supreme Court has adopted a set of guidelines for the establishment of child support orders in the state. These guidelines include a formula, which family law courts generally use to determine the amounts for child support obligations. The formula accounts for several factors, including each parent's income and the number of children the couple shares.
The formula applies the parents' combined income and number of children involved to the basic support obligations schedule. The amount obtained from the schedule is then generally divided by each parent's percentage of the combined income. For example, if the father's income is $7,500 per month and the mother's is $2,500, then the father would be responsible for 75 percent of the support while the mother is responsible for 25 percent. In order to determine the total support obligation of each parent, other expenses, such as health care coverage costs, childcare, education costs, special needs expenditures and adjustments for older children, may then be added to the basic support obligation, according to the Arizona Child Support Guidelines.
Deviating from the guidelines
Sometimes, situations warrant deviations from the state's child support guidelines. Under section 25-320 of the Arizona Revised Statutes, there are certain criteria that should be considered in these cases. These factors, include the following:
· The child's needs and financial resources
· The noncustodial parent's needs and financial resources
· The custodial parent's needs and financial resources
· The child's physical and emotional condition, as well as his or her educational needs
· Any abnormal or excessive expenditures
Additionally, the court may also consider what the child's standard of living would be if he or she lived with both parents. In order to deviate from the guidelines, the court must provide a written finding of how the guidelines would have been unjust or inappropriate.
Enforcing child support orders
The Division of Child Support Services, by state law, has the authority to enforce child support orders. This includes a number of different actions that may be taken by the division. According to the Arizona Department of Economic Security, these actions include administrative withholding income, offsetting tax refunds, seizing assets, placing liens on properties, and suspending or revoking parents' driver's licenses. Furthermore, judicial actions, such as state or federal prosecution, may also be taken.
Working with an attorney
There are numerous considerations, which go in to the establishment of child support orders in the state of Arizona. As such, the process can be somewhat complicated. Therefore, parents who are pursuing support, or might be ordered to pay support, may find it of benefit to seek legal counsel and representation. An attorney may explain the guidelines to help them to understand the process and what to expect.