There are many uncertainties that arise when a couple decides to divorce. These concerns are often much greater when the divorce also includes minor children. No doubt, one of the most important issues in any divorce that involves minor children is the issue of child support. We are not only expert Divorce Attorneys but have helped countless parents with child support issues in Mesa.
Most people think of child support as the amount of money one parent has to pay to the other to help support the children. This is only partly true. In a real sense, support of the minor children extends beyond a monthly monetary payment and includes a parent’s obligation to make sure a child’s emotional and psychological needs are addressed.
Child support lawyers in Mesa AZ is determined using Arizona’s Child Support Guidelines. The Guidelines provide a framework for determining a monthly monetary obligation that one parent pays to the other to ease the financial burden associated with caring for the children. There are a number of factors that are considered in determining who pays child support and how much. However, the two factors that most heavily influence the amount of child support that is to be paid are the income of the parties and the amount of parenting time each parent has.
The first step in calculating child support is to determine what each parent’s income is. This is typically determined by both parties filling out an Affidavit of Financial Information (AFI). The AFI requires each parent to provide full disclosure of his or her income, expenses and other financial obligations. Each parent is required to provide current pay stubs, W-2s and tax information, where applicable. The AFI becomes the basis for determining each parent’s income for purposes of calculating child support.
Before the amount of the child support obligation can be determined, it is also necessary to determine how much parenting time each parent will have with the minor children. This can be decided by the parents through an agreement or, by the court if the matter proceeds to trial. In more one parent exercises parenting time, the more the other parent will typically have to pay in child support. Other factors, such as costs of insurance and daycare also influence the amount of child support under Arizona guidelines.
Once the amount of the obligation is determined to order is entered by the judge obligating one parent to pay the other monthly support. The parent obligated to pay child support has the responsibility to make sure he or she is making the payment each and every month. The court order will require that all child support payments be made through the Support Clearinghouse through Automatic Wage Assignment, meaning that the paying parent’s wages will be garnished by the Clearinghouse to make sure the support is paid. The parent receiving child support will receive his or her support payments directly from the Support Clearinghouse. This assures that the obligation is getting paid regularly each month and that the parent receiving child support is getting paid as required by the court order. Any payment not made through the Clearinghouse can be considered a gift and the paying parent may not get credit for that payment. Failure to make regular and consistent child support payments will result in a child support arrearage that will accrue interest.
Child support can be modified if a change of circumstances occurs (i.e., loss of a job, decrease in income, increase in income, etc.) and the modification requested is in the best interest of the minor child/children.
Here are a few of the most common questions we get about child support as family law attorneys in Arizona.
- Will I have to pay child support?
Typically, yes. In Arizona, courts will always lookout for the “best interests” of the children. This means that because parents have an obligation to provide “reasonable support” for their minor children, the courts will order them to support them financially.
- How is child support calculated in Arizona?
The child support obligation is calculated by the court using the parents’ gross incomes and several additional factors, including the number of children the parents have together, the ages of the children, the amount of spousal support paid or received by each party, cost of childcare and health insurance for the children and parenting time exercised by each parent.
- Will the court consider the income from my second job in my child support calculation?
Generally, the court does not consider income from a second job or overtime unless the income is “consistent and regular.”
- How is a child support order in Arizona enforced if a parent is not paying?
Child support can be enforced by one of the following methods:
- Income withholding
- Credit bureau reporting
- Offset state tax refunds
- Seizing assets
- License suspension or revocation
- Property liens
- In Arizona, does child support end when a child turns 18?
Typically, child support ends once the child has either graduated from high school or has turned 19 years of age, whichever happens first.
- When can you modify a child support order in Arizona?
Parents can request a modification of their existing child support order, whether they are the custodial or noncustodial parent when there has been a significant and continuing change within the household. This may include adding or changing health insurance, a loss of a job, a new job, disability, or an increase or decrease in income for either parent. Typically, the modification can be requested if there is an increase or decrease in income that would cause a 15% increase or decrease in the child support amount paid.
- How do I modify a child support order in Arizona?
To make changes to the child support amount, you can file a Petition to Modify Child Support with the court.
- When is the start date for temporary child support in Arizona?
It is recommended that once you and your spouse have decided to divorce, you reach an agreement about how expenses will be shared until your divorce is final. If this is not an option, you can go to court to request a temporary child support order from a judge. Once the request is correctly filed, a hearing will be scheduled within days or weeks and a judge will issue his or her decision.
The legal team at the Law Offices of Kevin Jensen understands how important and stressful the issue of child support can be. We are committed to pursuing practical and effective solutions for our clients facing child support issues. Our legal team will make sure you understand the child support process in Mesa, Arizona and will passionately and compassionately make sure your most important asset, your children, are being protected. Contact us today for a free consultation about your Mesa Child Support issues.
Law Offices of Kevin Jensen – Mesa
3740 E Southern Ave #210, Mesa, AZ 85206