Arizona Child Support Laws

arizona child support lawsChild support is an important aspect of family law and can be a significant hurdle for those who are required to provide support.  This blogpost will provide a broad overview of the laws governing Arizona child support.

Per A.R.S. § 25-501(A), both custodial and non-custodial parents are required to provide reasonable support for their minor children. Child support is a high priority in Arizona courts.  If an individual is facing other court-ordered financial obligations, child support orders will always take precedent.

What are the Arizona Child Support Guidelines?

Arizona has adopted the Arizona Child Support Guidelines.  Judges will follow the guidelines when imposing a child support order.  The Guidelines provide an estimate of how much a parent will be required to spend on children if the parents were living together.  The Guidelines are determined by economists and updated yearly to reflect things like inflation and the standard income.  The Guidelines determine what is an appropriate basic amount for child support, depending on the number of children and the totally monthly gross income of the parents.

There is a presumptive limit of $20,000 a month on the amount of the combined gross income of the parents to determine the basic child support obligation. Adjustments will be made on other children that are not common to both parties, low-income adjustment, costs of healthcare and child care, and costs with parenting time.

Courts may deviate from the Guidelines but this is not done lightly. The courts have established certain criteria for when deviations can occur, including providing a written determination that applying the guidelines would be unjust or that the deviations would be in the best interests of the child.

Generally, after a court has ordered child support, the support does not terminate until the child turns 18, or if still in high school at 19, until the child reaches 19. The law allows for modification if there is a showing of changes circumstances that is substantial and continuing.  This could be if a parent loses a job, gets a pay decrease, or there are changes in health insurance.

In January 2018, the Arizona Supreme Court adopted revisions to the Arizona Child Support Guidelines based on changes to state law which increased the minimum wage and new federal regulations. All child support orders ordered after March 31, 2018, will use the new guidelines.  For support orders that are due for a previous time period based on wages earned during that time, different calculators are used.

How Do I Calculate Child Support?

Child support can be determined on your own based on the order and using the calculator online that the Arizona Judicial Branch provides on their website. The calculator asks for the case ID number.  Each child under the order must be listed along with date of birth.  Next, the calculator will ask for financial details. Arizona bases child support on both father and mother gross monthly incomes. The calculator will ask if for any court-ordered spousal maintenance that is being paid and if the person is paying child support for other children per a different order.

It is extremely important to understand the court order of child support.  This will determine who is enforcing the order.  This is important because this will determine how child support payments should be paid and by what means.

Arizona has many ways to enforce the order.  One way is to issue and income withholding order which collects the support from the parent’s earnings.  The Arizona Department of Revenue may also issue an intercept of any state income tax refunds.  The state can also issue asset seizures, including bank accounts or other property, to satisfy the support amount.  Click here to find out how long do you have to pay child support in Arizona.