The laws governing child support in Arizona are different from that of other states. AZ child support law sets how much the child maintenance should be, and the duration of such payments, plus it seeks to guide parents in exceptional cases such as deviation, support for disabled children, and retroactive support.
As you may already know, child support (or child maintenance) is a continuous monetary payment made by a spouse to another spouse, guardian, caregiver, or the state for the upkeep of children after a divorce or separation.
The person who is required to pay child support is referred to as the “obligor,” whereas the person who is eligible to receive child maintenance is referred to as the “obligee.”
What is AZ Child Support Laws?
In Arizona, the obligee is typically always the person who has primary custody of the child, which means the person who lives with the child, pays the majority of the living expenses, and has primary custody of the child.
The obligor is typically always the spouse who doesn’t have primary custody of the children and may or may not have custody or access to them.
In essence, the Arizona child support guidelines (under Arizona Revised Statutes (“A.R.S.”) § 25-320) specify an approximation of what the parents would expend on the kids if they continued to live together. Their goal is to establish uniform standards of care and, in the end, a fair financial strategy that is compatible with the parents’ financial capacity.
A further institutional objective is to resolve the child support matter as fast and effectively as possible. By establishing criteria for calculating child support, the Guidelines advance these objectives.
Some Important Components of AZ Guideline
- States must revise their child support rules every four years in accordance with state and federal legislation, with the latest Arizona version going into effect on January 1, 2022
- For the purpose of determining child support, the Guidelines currently set a presumed combined adjusted income maximum of $30,000.00 per month.
- Children’s travel costs between households can be taken into account when parents are more than 100 miles apart.
- The Self-Support Reserve Test is utilized by the courts to check if the ordered support account can be afforded by the parents, considering their gross income.
What does Child Support Cover in Arizona?
In AZ, child support helps cover the cost of basic needs like food, clothing, groceries, and shelter; health insurance or “extraordinary” medical expenses; education including tuition, uniforms, textbooks, lunch money, and private tutors; college; childcare (babysitters, nannies, daycare); travel expenses; fun and education.
Child Support When One Parent Lives Outside Arizona
To enforce child support orders beyond state boundaries, each state has to have the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA) in place. Arizona is no exception.
The UIFSA ensures that child support processes and procedures are consistent across states. When one spouse lives in another state where the Arizona courts do not have authority to adjudicate or enforce orders, UIFSA reduces these bottlenecks.
As a result of the UIFSA, an AZ child support attorney can take legal action against a spouse who now lives in another state to enforce a child support order.
How is Child Maintenance Calculated In Arizona?
To calculate child maintenance, Arizona uses the AZ Income Shares Model. This can be done easily using the Arizona Child Support Calculator or Child Support Worksheet.
Data based on the Guidelines is gathered and entered into a Child Support Calculator to estimate a spouse’s child support obligation. The calculator will then compute the amount of child support obligation.
Factors Arizona Courts Consider Before Ordering Maintenance
The amount of child support that a spouse is required to pay depends on a number of factors. Usually taken into account are the following elements:
- how many minor children are involved in this incident;
- the child(ren)s’ age(s);
- each party’s earnings;
- which parent will pay the premiums for the child’s health insurance (dental and/or vision coverage may also be included if that party also pays for those coverages);
- whether or not a party supports any children from prior relationships, as well as whether or not that party pays or receives child support;
- whether either side is providing or receiving spousal maintenance; and
- how much time each parent spends with their children.
Other elements that could be taken into account but are not required to be in the child support calculator are:
- the price of daycare (if applicable) and which parent is responsible for the cost;
- any additional costs for the child(ren) (gifted or with special needs); and
- any additional costs for the child’s education.
Steps for Calculating Arizona Child Support
The factors listed above are taken into account in Arizona’s child support formula.
[The monthly insurance premium costs for parent + children]
[The monthly insurance premium costs for parent only]
[The amount the parent spends on the children’s premiums should be used in the calculator.]
Then parenting time is a major decider, and here are the options:
The parent with the greater income pays child support but receives a 50% discount when parenting time is split evenly (approximately 164 days per parent per year).
When parents who spend equal amounts of time together have the same income and parental costs, neither pays child support.
When children spend more time with one parent than the other
The percentage of child support that the noncustodial parent can reduce depends on how many days they spend together annually.
|Days of parenting time||Percent adjustment|
|164 or more||50%|
Calculating the period for child support from the non-resident parent
Arizona looks at each block of time spent with the children when calculating the noncustodial parent’s annual parenting time. Time spent with a third-party caregiver or at school does not count.
Every 24 hours counts as one day within a block. If there is time remaining after dividing a block into 24-hour sections or if a block is shorter than 24 hours, then:
- 12 to 23 hours is considered one day (equal to 24 hours).
- 6 to 11 hours is considered a half-day (equal to 12 hours).
- 3 to 5 hours is considered a quarter day (equal to 6 hours).
- Less than 3 hours is considered a quarter day (equal to 6 hours) if the noncustodial parent regularly pays for routine expenses during the visit (e.g., meals).
Arizona Child Support Calculator or Worksheet: Which to Use?
While a child support calculator can be used to estimate child support, it is not a guarantee of the final amount of child maintenance that the judge will order. A child support worksheet is a form used by the AZ courts (or negotiating spouses) to approximate the basic child support obligation of the parents. You can also use the state’s own child support calculator HERE or worksheet HERE.
Regardless of which approach you use, spouses can decide on a child support sum and amend the worksheet accordingly to ensure it accurately reflects their agreement. Both establish a presumption duty to pay child support.
The final decision on the amount of child support is made by the administrative law judge, administrator, or court.
Gross Income Included in Calculating Child Maintenance
For child support calculation purposes, gross income includes:
- all wages and salary, including commissions, military pay, tips, overtime, and bonuses
- self-employment income
- interest and dividends
- net rental income from property the parent owns
Even jobless parents are likely to have some sources of income, like:
- severance pay
- unemployment benefits
- retirement benefits
- veterans’ benefits
- disability benefits, or
- workers’ compensation awards.
An AZ family court judge may also allocate an income value to parents who do not currently have income-earning employment (like a second house). If a jobless parent inherits assets that can be sold, for instance, the judge may include the property’s market value as a part of such parent’s income.
Where parents willfully go unemployed or underemployed in order to avoid paying child support, judges may infer (assign) income based on what they are supposed to be earning.
Calculating Support for More than One Child in AZ
Click here to assess the Schedule of Basic Support Obligations, which is based on the latest Guidelines.
Is Medical Health Insurance Part of Child Support in Arizona?
Yes, in addition to the amount of support determined by the guidelines in Arizona, the parents will be responsible for the child’s health and dental insurance.
Whereas the noncustodial parent is presumed to provide coverage, this can readily be transferred to the other parent if it makes good sense.
For instance, suppose the custodial parent’s employer offers healthcare insurance for the dependent but the noncustodial parent does not.
How to Challenge or Modify Child Support Order
The child support order may be modified when there is a significant and ongoing change in circumstances, such as if:
- the amount of child support is at least 15% higher or lower than the original child support order,
- a change in parenting time,
- a change in spouses’ earnings,
- if the noncustodial parent is going to be incarcerated,
- a change in child(ren) expenses,
- every three years
“Modifiable” merely implies that the amount of child support previously ordered by the Court may be increased or decreased. It may occasionally be appropriate to switch who is responsible for paying child support.
How to Request a Child Support Modification in AZ
Step 1: Get the Modify a Child Support Order Packet
Step2: Fill out the Petition contained in the packet (actual request to modify child support order)
Step 3: Fill out the Affidavit of Financial Information (to provide your up-to-date financial situation.)
Steps to Collect Child Support in Arizona
Getting a child support order in place is only half the struggle in Arizona. You’ll also have to collect the money itself. A noncustodial parent is responsible for paying the full amount of child maintenance per month as imposed by the court. Here are the steps for getting child support in AZ
1. Open a Child Support Case
Download and complete the state child support application packet or obtain them from your local child support agency/office.
2. Locate the Other Parent
To begin the child maintenance procedure in AZ, the child support services (CSS) office will use the information provided by the applying parent, as well as information gathered from other sources, to try to locate the other parent.
3. Establish Parentage
It’s critical to establish a legitimate relationship with the child when the other parent has been located. The state will assist you in locating the sufficient means. Parents can choose to acknowledge their parentage voluntarily or organize a genetic screening.
4. Establish a Child Support Order
An Arizona child support order specifies how much the other parent should pay and includes details such as the payment schedule and provisions for the child’s health insurance.
5. Set Up Payment
Deducting child maintenance from a parent’s paycheck and transferring the money to the other parent or guardian is the most typical method of payment. It’s a simple way to make and track child support payments.
6. Enforce the Support Order
Your AZ child support services will enforce the child support order if the noncustodial parent does not pay the full amount or does not pay any. Exposing overdue child support payments to credit bureaus, intercepting income tax refunds, and Withholding child maintenance from unemployment or worker’s compensation benefits are examples of other enforcement measures.
7. Review the Order
Three years after the order is issued, either parent can request their local child support office to revise it. They can ask for a reassessment sooner than three years if a parent’s situation has changed significantly, such as loss of employment or imprisonment.
Arizona Child Support Services Office, Number and Login Portal
Contact the Department of Child Support Services ()DCSS or your county office.
Address: 11420 N 19th Ave, Phoenix, AZ 85029, United States
Phone: +1 602-252-4045
Retroactive Child Support and Arrears
Arizona has a law governing retrospective child support. However, the statute of limitations on providing retroactive child support is three years. As a result, only the child support paid during the three years prior to the custodial parent’s court petition will be refunded. When the court determines that there is good cause to extend that three-year period, there is an exemption.
Consequences of not paying child support orders in Arizona
There could be serious repercussions down the road if there is a level of refusal or incapacity to pay for child support, including:
- criminal charges,
- hefty penalties,
- wage and tax garnishments, and
Seizure of personal property or assets
Placing a lien on real estate for which you own
- suspension of professional and occupational licensure
- contempt of court
How to Enforce Child support in AZ
A parent can make a request to place the non-paying parent in contempt of court to enforce child support obligations. If a parent was aware of the judge’s support order, the ability to pay the child maintenance, and wilfully and knowingly declined to provide it, the parent would be held in contempt of court and could be jailed for that.
Here are steps to enforce the payment:
- A petition for Contempt should be filed.
- An Order to Appear for a Contempt Hearing will be signed by the court.
- The motion for contempt and the order to appear are served on the parent who is not providing child support.
- Attend the upcoming contempt hearing.
- The court can continue the hearing even if the non-paying parent does not appear, and that parent will probably be found in contempt of court.
- The judge will probably also issue an arrest warrant for that parent.
You will have to prove the other parent was notified of the child support order, had the means to pay the child support requirement, and deliberately and purposefully refused to pay the child support, whether the other parent attends the hearing or not.
If you feel the arrears are being demanded wrongly, you can learn how to get child support arrears dismissed HERE.
Can you go to Jail For Not Paying Child Support in AZ?
Yes. In the state of Arizona, failing to pay child support that is ordered by the court constitutes the crime of “failure of parent to provide for child.” This is a class VI felony in Arizona, punishable by up to 1.5 years in jail.
How to Pay Child Maintenance in Arizona
In Arizona, parents can pay child maintenance in a variety of ways, as long as your order doesn’t state otherwise:
- by debit or credit card,
- bank transfer
- direct deposit
- income withholding, or
- auto-draft from a bank account.
How to Check your Child Support Payment History in AZ
When there are disagreements between the parents and a need to confirm how much money is owed, child support payment records are extremely beneficial.
Contact the DCSS at 602-252-4045 or 1-800-882-4151 on or after the tenth day of the month after the month your payment was due, or check online at http://www.azdes.gov/dcss.
For example: If the payment due date is January 1; call the DCSS Customer Service Center after February 10.
When Does Child Support End in Arizona?
The Arizona court “may order that one or both parents to support a child until:
- the last day of the month that the child turns 18 years. But, if the child is still a high school student, the parent needs to provide child support ends when the child graduates or turns 19 years old.
- If both you and your ex-spouse decide to stop making payments before your child reaches the age of 18,
- whenever a youngster is emancipated by law before turning 18 years old. When a child marries, moves out of their parent’s house, or enlists in the military, they become emancipated.
- If a kid has exceptional needs, a child support order may be extended.
Nevertheless, if the judge determines that the child is disabled (physically or mentally), the child can receive support perpetually.
What is the Average Child Support Payment in AZ?
The average child support payment in the US is 430 dollars per month, as per the Census Bureau. As a result, according to the Arizona DES calculator, a parent who earns $2,000 per month and has 2 children that live with their other parent must pay $500 in child support each month. Whenever the kids turn 12, the payment for each child will increase.
Using the same calculator, the non-custodial parent will be responsible for paying $614 when both children become 12 years old.
All of them consider that the average income of a father who is not getting child support payments is $52,000, but the average income of a female in a similar situation is $26,000.
How Does AZ Child Support Work if one Parent Has no Job?
n case you lost your employment, the first step you should take is notify your local child support office. In doing so, you will be able to prove that you acted quickly to alert the appropriate authorities to your predicament.
This contingency plan is preferable than delaying your payments and letting the State take legal action to collect from you.
Even though the child support office is aware of your current situation, they will regrettably be unable to stop your child support obligation. You can have the amount of child support you pay be modified by petitioning the court to modify the initial support order.
Is Child Support Tax Deductible in Arizona?
NO. In Arizona child support payments are neither taxable to the recipient nor tax-deductible by the payer as stated by the IRS. Don’t include child support payments when calculating your gross income to see whether you have to file a tax return.
However, either parent may be eligible for a dependency exemption per child. If the parents can’t agree on who receives the exemption, the judge will set out the terms in a court order.
Getting a Skilled Arizona Child Support Attorney
If you are involved in a family law matter in Arizona, you may have a lot more questions than answers at this moment. You are not alone; Correspondence with members has shown that using the services of specialized child support attorneys saves a lot of hassles and most importantly, ensures you come out as a winner for you and your kid.
If you need to fight your child maintenance cause in AZ with confidence, then you’ll need attorneys that are both empathetic and strong.
Luckily, we have compiled a database of these expert child support lawyers and made them available for the convenience of our members. You can reach them at the click of a button for legal advice and representation on child maintenance.
- Arizona Child Adoption Guidelines
- Arizona Childcare Guidelines
- Arizona Child Custody and Visitation Guidelines
- Arizona Child Support Guidelines
- Arizona Divorce Guidelines
- Arizona Marital Property Guidelines
- Arizona Spousal Support Guidelines
- How to Check Arizona Child Support Payment History
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