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Child Support

Child Support need not be a vicious battle. Many people will make child support an angry, bitterly-fought issue. However, in Arizona, Child Support is all about numbers. Those numbers can be found in our statutes here. And a calculator program can be found here.

Many people assume that Child Support should be spent directly on the children. Don’t fall into that trap. If you are paying child support, always remember that the other party has already paid for a home, utilities, food and clothing for the child. You are not entitled to any itemized summary of where the support you paid was spent. Similarly, if you are receiving support, you need not keep records of where you applied it.

The child support amount is set by the legislature in a way that is intended to estimate what the parties would spend on the child(ren) if they were still together. Each of you will pay a percentage of the total estimated amount based on your incomes. Costs like medical insurance and daycare are added to the amount and figured directly into the child support obligation. From the obligation, a credit is given to the payor of child support to offset costs they incur during the time the child is with them. As you will note, these things don’t require a lot of angry disagreement either to establish a support order or to modify an existing one.

The biggest mistake made by persons paying child support is neglecting to keep track of their obligation. The courts assume that the person paying the support will ask for a modification when one is warranted. That assumption is based on the idea that you wouldn’t want to pay more than is required. Where people tend to go wrong is that they expect the support to be modified automatically. That won’t happen. In fact, many a person has paid support for years before they realized that it wasn’t correct. The law in Arizona won’t allow you to modify a child support order retroactively. Basically, if you’ve paid too much or the order is too high, it will stay that way until you apply to modify it.

Although the system appears pretty simple, many people who file without an attorney have committed errors in their paperwork that eventually cost them thousands of dollars. You should consider retaining an attorney for such a procedure. The benefit to you is an accurate calculation of the obligation as well as inclusion of all items that would impact the total. If you have children from another relationship, support for that child can dramatically affect the child support total. In addition, when the cost of medical insurance increases or the child begins attending school, the child support amount could change. Parenting time increases or decreases will impact the child support obligation. An attorney can insure that all items are considered and that the child support order is appropriate under our laws. The money you spend on an attorney can save you many times the expense you would incur with an incorrect child support amount.