How Does Child Support Work in Arizona if Custodial Parent Makes More Money?


If you have gone through a divorce, you can likely attest to the fact that neither you nor your former spouse were particularly happy with the final agreement. Unless this is a completely amicable separation, where neither party is haggling over who gets what, how the children should be cared for, who should be the custodial parent, or other similar issues, there are going to be hard feelings, usually from both sides.

The Outcome of Divorce is Rarely Equal

While the court is focused on trying to be as equitable as possible in terms of the division of property, one of the priorities in making any ruling is related to the care and custody of the children. This can mean that the custodial parent, the one who will have the children the vast majority of time, may receive far more in terms of property than the other parent, primarily because they may be allowed to keep the house as part of caring for the children. Issues like this can be quite aggravating to one party who feels that they are not getting an equitable share of the division of property.

It can also be quite frustrating when the matter of child support is addressed. The role of the court is not only to ensure that the children are adequately cared for, but to also make sure that they are able to maintain the standard of lifestyle that they had prior to the divorce. This can mean that a larger share of money can be taken away from the non-custodial parent to be paid in child support if that allows the children to maintain the lifestyle they had when the non-custodial parent was residing in the home.

What Happens with Child Support When the Custodial Parent Makes More Money?

The court wants to ensure that the divorce has as minimal of an impact as possible on the lives of the children and judges are prone to award child support amounts that give the children the opportunity to thrive as they had before. They don’t want to deprive the children from the kind of academic success, sporting or other extracurricular activities that they may have been involved in prior to the divorce, just because the parents are unable to get along. This is viewed by the court as unfair for the children to suffer this burden.

However, what if there is an instance where the non-custodial parent makes significantly less than the custodial one? Are they still required to pay child support? The short answer is, yes.

It is the duty of the court to ensure that both parents pay their “fair share” for the rearing of the child or children. Just because one parent is making significantly more money does not mean that the other parent no longer holds responsibility in caring for the children financially. This is a duty of every parent to ensure that the children have the necessary things and therefore both parents are usually required to pay child support if both of them are working.

Should a Non-Custodial Parent with Less Income Pay the Same as a Custodial Parent with a Higher Income?

Where the issue arises is when the court has determined that the non-custodial parent is still required to pay an equal amount to that of the custodial one, or maybe even greater.

To determine how much each parent should provide toward the care and maintenance of the children, the court uses a system that calculates exactly how much each parent is responsible to pay for the care of the children. This is determined by considering a number of factors, including the income of both parents, the amount of property that each has, the location where each parent lives, and if either of the parents or both have children from another relationship.

By reviewing all of these factors, the court then makes a determination on how much each parent should pay. However, the court can make errors at times. Either through faulty information or simply an error, they may make a determination that is unfair to the non-custodial parent.

How Do You Correct Unfair Child Support?

You should know that you have legal recourse to petition the court to ask them to review their prior order so as to ensure that fairness is being adhered to. It doesn’t matter whether the original order was an error or if there is a change where either of the parents has had a dramatic increase or decrease in the amount of money they are making. You still have the legal right to ask the court to review the court order.

Before taking this action, it is important that you don’t decide to change the amount on your own. A lot of parents get frustrated when they feel that they are being “cheated” in some way and decide to rectify the problem on their own. This is a violation of the court order and could actually result in you being held in contempt of court. Continue to pay as ordered until the court has had a time to review your petition.

Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.

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