Child Support Attorney in Arizona

How Child Support is Calculated in Arizona

child custody infographicWhat is Child Support? 

Child support is the monthly payment you make to the parent of your child for expenses related to your child’s care. The monthly amount can be agreed upon informally or ordered by the court. If the child support is court-ordered, the consequences of not paying are serious. Unpaid child support accrues interest, and your wages may be garnished if you consistently fail to make payments. Arizona Family law judgeshave guidelines to follow when determining child support in Arizona.

Child Support Factors

The family law judge will first look at a number of case-specific factors to determine the presumptive support payment. If good cause exists, the judge may order an amount higher or lower than the presumptive child support payment. This is so one parent can’t cede custody in an attempt to avoid paying child support, leaving the child with inadequate financial support.

Parenting Time: 

The first factor the judge will consider is how much custody/parenting time each parent has. Twelve hours or more of parenting time counts as one day. Any amount between 6-11 hours is considered half a day. Time periods between 3-5 hours count as one quarter of a day. Any parenting time in shorter periods than that is not considered for child support purposes.
Medical Expenses: If the child has any extraordinary expenses and medical expenses, those will be factored into the payment. If the parents have children from other relationships, whether they are receiving support for those children affects child support calculations. 
Child Care Expense:  Child care is an expense considered in the calculations, along with each parent’s income. The court also acknowledges that expenses increase as the child grows older.
Earning Capacity:  If one of the parents is unemployed, the judge may consider that parent’s earning capacity. Child support guidelines only go up to $20,000 combined monthly income for the two parents. If one parent wants additional support beyond that maximum, they will have to prove to the court why it is needed.

How Long Does Child Support Last? 

Child support in Arizona will continue until the child turns 18 and has graduated high school, or until the child turns 19. Child support can be modified, but the parent will have to prove there is a “substantial and continuing change” to warrant a modification. Child support can’t be retroactively modified- once you owe it, you owe it.

Whether you are requesting child support for the first time, or you need to modify an existing child support order, our Arizona Child Support Lawyers can help. Our knowledgeable and experienced attorneys can guide you through Arizona’s complicated family law system and get you the best results possible. Plus, we offer no obligation, free Family Law consultations, either in office or by phone consultations.  thus,  you can discuss your options risk-free and confidentially.


MYTH No matter what, child support will stop when the child reaches 18.

You will need to pay child support until the child graduates high school or turns 19, whichever comes first. You will need to petition the court to terminate support once one of these events occurs.

MYTH I can give up all my parenting time and legal decision making authority in order to not pay child support.

No matter what agreements exist between the parents regarding parenting time and child support, the child has the right to adequate financial support from both parents. A judge will still likely order you to pay child support even if you give up all the rights to spending time with your child. When it comes to matters of child custody and support, the best interests of the child weigh out over the parents’ wishes.

MYTH I can quit my job to have my child support payments lowered. 

A judge will not lower your child support payments if you voluntarily quit a job. Choosing to be unemployed is not a good enough reason to grant a modification. A modification may be granted, however, if the parent is terminated.

MYTH Child support payments must only be spent on the child.

As long as the parent who is receiving support payments provides for the child’s safety, shelter, and overall general welfare, the court won’t be concerned with whatever else that spouse is spending money on. You can’t take the parent of your child to court to lower support payments because you have seen pictures of them going out to eat and shopping. You can request a modification if you believe the other parent is spending your support payments frivolously, but these motions are unlikely to be granted and you will be restricted from requesting another modification, even if you lose your income.

MYTH If I move out of state, I won’t have to pay my child support. 

Each state’s child support enforcement agency cooperates with each other to ensure that this isn’t possible. You will keep accruing child support arrearages at the same rate if you move out of state.

MYTH If don’t make my child support payments, the other parent is just going to have to wait for me to pay.

If you owe the other parent child support, they have many methods of attempting to collect from you. Your local child support enforcement agency may place a lien on your property or suspend your driver’s or occupational license. You can also have your tax refunds and other payments seized, along with your wages being garnished. Child support wage garnishments have a much higher maximum deduction than standard debts. Most debts can only garnish 15-25% of your wages, while child support can go up to 60%. If you are more than 12 weeks behind on your payments, an additional 5% may be added to your garnishment.

MYTH My child support payments are tax deductible. 

Child support payments aren’t tax deductible for the parent who pays, and they aren’t counted as income for the parent who receives.

MYTH If I don’t collect all the back child support my ex owes me before the child turns 18, I am out of luck.

You can file to receive support for up to 3 years prior to the date of filing. Once the support is due, there is no statute of limitations to collect. Child support is a non-dischargeable debt that will remain, probably accruing interest, until the other parent pays.

MYTH Child support payments can’t be modified.

Child support payments are granted sparingly and with certain time restrictions, but support can be modified. The current order will have to have been in place for at least a year before the paying parent can request a modification. From that point, the parent can request a modification once per year. The request will only be granted if there has been a “substantial and continuing change in circumstances.” This usually means a change in income of 10% or more. Your child support order may also contain a provision to automatically increase the support amount each year for cost of living.

Have more questions about child support payments in Arizona? Pick up the phone and schedule a free consultation with one of our family law attorneys. Learn your rights and plan your best course of action for free. Then, if you’re ready, our firm offers affordable down payments and monthly payment plan options. You don’t have to continue with life married to a narcissist- schedule your free consultation today.

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