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How Is Child Support Calculated in Arizona?


In Arizona, child support calculations are determined by using the income shares model, which estimates the amount parents would spend on their children if they lived together. The calculation considers several factors such as the parents’ incomes, the number of children and additional costs like health insurance, childcare and educational expenses. Deviations from the standard calculation can occur based on specific circumstances, such as extraordinary medical expenses or special needs. If you need help preparing your finances for a divorce, consider talking to a financial advisor.

How Child Support Works in Arizona

Arizona follows the income shares model, which aims to estimate the financial support that would have been available to the child if the parents were living together. This model considers both parents’ incomes, their parenting time and additional costs such as healthcare, education and childcare.

Filing for child support typically begins with a petition to the court. Parents may reach an agreement through mediation, but if they cannot agree, the court will hold a hearing to determine the amount based on the guidelines. Once established, child support orders can be modified if there is a significant change in circumstances, such as a substantial increase or decrease in either parent’s income, changes in the child’s needs, or alterations in custody arrangements.

Given the complexities of calculating child support, consulting with a financial advisor or family law attorney can be beneficial. These professionals can provide specific guidance based on individual circumstances, helping parents navigate the legal and financial aspects effectively. They can also assist in preparing accurate financial disclosures and negotiating agreements that best serve the child’s interests.

How Child Support Is Calculated in Arizona

Understanding how child support is calculated in Arizona involves recognizing the various factors that influence the final amount. The state uses the Income Shares Model, which aims to estimate the financial support a child would receive if both parents lived together. Here’s a breakdown of six key elements factored into the calculation:

  • Parents’ combined income: The calculation starts with the gross income of both parents. This includes wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions and any other sources of income. The combined income is used to determine the proportionate share each parent should contribute to the child’s needs.
  • Number of children: The number of children being supported directly impacts the amount of child support. More children generally increase the overall support obligation, reflecting the higher cost of raising multiple children.
  • Parenting time: The amount of time each parent spends with the child is considered. More parenting time can reduce the non-custodial parent’s child support obligation, as they are directly contributing to the child’s needs during their time together.
  • Health insurance: The cost of health insurance premiums for the child is included. If one parent is responsible for providing health insurance, that cost is factored into the support amount so that the financial burden is shared.
  • Childcare expenses: Childcare expenses necessary for the custodial parent to work or attend school are included in the calculation. This ensures that the parent can maintain employment or education while still supporting the child.
  • Medical and educational costs: Uninsured medical expenses and special educational costs are considered. This includes expenses for treatments, therapies, or schooling that are not covered by insurance.

Adjustments may be made so that the child enjoys a similar standard of living they would have if the parents were together. This can include discretionary expenses and other costs that contribute to the child’s quality of life. Any extraordinary expenses, such as costs for extracurricular activities or special needs, are factored in.

The court can adjust the standard calculation based on specific circumstances. Significant changes in income, employment status or the child’s needs can prompt a modification to ensure fairness and adequacy in support.

Other Considerations for Child Support in Arizona

Child support calculations in Arizona extend beyond basic expenses.

In Arizona, child support calculations extend beyond basic expenses. One important consideration is the cost of extracurricular activities. Whether it’s sports, music lessons or other hobbies, these activities contribute significantly to a child’s development and are factored into the support calculations. The court may order parents to share these costs to promote a balanced upbringing.

Changes in parental income can significantly impact child support amounts. If either parent experiences a substantial increase or decrease in income, they can request a modification of the support order. This aims for the child to receive financial support regardless of the parents’ changing financial situations.

Custody arrangements also play a significant role. Shared custody or significant visitation time can affect the amount of support one parent pays. The more time a parent spends with their child, the more direct expenses they incur, which can reduce their financial obligation to the other parent.

Additionally, special needs children may require additional financial resources. These needs could include medical treatments, specialized education, or therapy, which can significantly increase the financial burden on parents.

Bottom Line

Shared custody can affect the amount of support one parent pays in Arizona.

When calculating child support in Arizona, parents should consider both of their incomes, as well as the costs of childcare, healthcare and education. They must also account for the state’s Child Support Guidelines, which use an income shares model to determine fair distribution based on the financial contributions of both parents.

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