How Does Child Support Work If Parents Live in Different States?


In the state of Arizona, like in most states, the court recognizes that the financial stability of the custodial parent is an important factor in giving a child the best opportunity after a divorce or legal separation. While the hindrance of a child witnessing their parents get a divorce can cause emotional and/or psychological issues, the inability to recover from it will be the difference between failure and success. This is why the Arizona state legislature has made it mandatory that if a couple gets a divorce or legal separation, and has a child, they will be required by law to setup child support.

While Arizona has determined that child support is mandatory when parents get divorced or legally separated, not all states require it. So, how does child support work if parents live in different states? That question, as well as many others, will be answered in this article.

To receive help with family law issues in Arizona please give our family law team a call at (480) 467-4348 and setup a consultation with one of our child support attorneys.

Determining Child Support When the Parents Live in Different States

Determining child support is difficult enough, when parents live in different states this can add a fair amount of complexity. No matter where the two parents live the most important factor is where the original paperwork for child support was filed, this determines the jurisdiction. Jurisdiction refers to the power to enforce laws, so if the papers were originally filed in Arizona and one of the parents lives in Texas, the laws of child support would refer to Arizona state laws.

Other than that, the overall aspect of child support will remain the same even if the parent is living in another state. The payments are still required to be made to the custodial parent on a monthly basis until the child reaches 18 years of age.

To view all the laws associated with child support in Arizona, check out ARS 25-320.

Can the Jurisdiction Change?

If you find that the current jurisdiction for the case is not working for you and the other parent, you can seek to have jurisdiction moved from one location to another. However, this rarely happens (or is necessary) and the court will do everything they can to keep the jurisdiction the same throughout the entire length of the agreement. There are only two instances where a court in a different jurisdiction can intervene to hear these kinds of matters.

The first and most common of these situations is when both parents have agreed that it is acceptable to have another court hear matters related to their child support agreement. It may become more convenient for the two parents to have the matter heard before a court in a different jurisdiction, and this is perfectly acceptable if both parents are in agreement related to this matter.

The other situation is if there is an emergency and time is a factor to have the courts intervene. This usually happens in cases where some form of abuse can be proven, making it necessary for the court to get involved. Out of the needs of the child, they can grant temporary custody to one parent, revoke the custody or paternal rights of the other, or take some other form of action that is in the best interests of the children.

Why Courts Don’t Like Changing Jurisdictions

There was a time when it was common for one parent to leave the state where an order was written and go to another state where they could find a judge who was more amenable to rolling in their favor. This created a situation that was not fair to the other parent, and so courts in different jurisdictions have been hesitant to get involved in these kinds of cases at all.

They will defer to the court that had original jurisdiction not only out of courtesy, but out of fairness. A judge who was not the original arbiter of the case will likely not understand all of the nuances that have been involved in determining the agreement.

Work With a Family Law Attorney for Best Results

Even though there are resources for determining child support, such as the Arizona child support guidelines, it will always be in your best interest to hire a family law attorney.  When dealing with the law in any manner it is best to consult a professional, especially when determining a financial document responsible for thousands of dollar’s worth of payments.

Arizona child support attorneys have dedicated their careers to ensuring that families and their children are set up to succeed in a stable environment after experiencing a divorce or legal separation. By staying civil and working with your ex-partner, a family law attorney will be able to speak on your behalf for all legal matters and help you to make the best decisions possible for you and your family.

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

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