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Arizona Child Support Guide

Posted On April 30, 2024 In Child Support,Family Law

Arizona Law upholds the standard of making all decisions in the best interests of children. It’s in a child’s best interest for both parents to meet their obligation to financially support their child. During a divorce or when parents are unmarried, the state relies on the Income Shares Model to determine child support, including which spouse pays the other and the amount they must pay. Federal law requires each state to review its guidelines for child support every four years and make any necessary updates by examining randomly selected cases.

In Arizona, it’s important for parents to understand the state’s guidelines for calculating child support payments. If you have questions about a child support case talk to a Chandler family law attorney at Wilson-Goodman Law Group, PLLC. Contact us online today, we offer free consultations.

How Does the Income Shares Model for Child Support Work in Arizona?

The Income Shares model serves to emulate what both parents would contribute financially toward raising their children had they remained married and continue that support after a divorce or for unmarried co-parents. Although a judge has the final discretion to make changes in unique cases, the Arizona court bases child support orders on a computer calculation using the following factors:

  • Each parent’s gross income
  • The number of children the spouses have together
  • The number of overnight custody stays of the children with each parent
  • The costs of childcare, medical care, and education for each child
  • Any needs unique to the family’s circumstances such as expenses for a child with special needs or a child in extracurricular activities like competitive sports

Arizona uses the above data in each family’s case and puts it into economic tables to estimate the current baseline monthly amount the family spends on caring for their children. Then, the parent with the fewer overnight custody stays pays their percentage of the proportional share of combined income to the parent with the greater number of overnight custody days. The state reduces the amount of child support determined by the income shares model by the paying parent’s percentage of overnight stays.

What Is Considered Monthly Income in Arizona Child Support Calculations?

Calculating each parent’s monthly income for determining child support requires the parent to report the following:

  • Total wages or salary
  • Any commissions and bonuses
  • Self-employment income
  • Business income
  • Pension or retirement income
  • All income from trusts, inheritance, and investments
  • Rental property income
  • Income from state and federal programs like Unemployment, Social Security, Workers’ Compensation, or Disability

In rare circumstances, a parent with a greater number of parenting nights may be ordered to pay support to the other parent based on the Income Shares Model if they have a sizable income advantage over the other parent. If the Income Shares Model results in a much higher amount than required to meet the children’s reasonable needs, a judge may adjust the amount.

Why Does Arizona Use a Formula for Calculating Child Support?

Like all states, Arizona courts use set standards for determining child support. This ensures a fair system that’s consistent between families because it’s based on each parent’s ability to pay and the reasonable needs of their children. The preset standards also help support divorcing parents in devising an out-of-court settlement agreement rather than unnecessarily disputing the matter in court.