Divorce or separation can be a terrible ordeal to go through and it gets messier when there are children involved. Regardless of what you are going through, you will want your children to be cared for as they were before, and this often means setting up a child support agreement between parents.
However, it can be stressful and confusing as there are so many rules and guidelines in place. This is no different when considering child support for a disabled child, and it is important to look at what may differ when it comes to this factor. You should strongly consider working with a skilled family law attorney on such matters. To get in contact with our family law team, give us a call at (480) 467-4348 or fill out a form online.
Child Support for a Disabled Child
Arizona law states that any money paid via child support often ends when the child or children in question reach the age of 18, or graduate from high school. The length of child support for a disabled child differs though, as parents may be expected to contribute financially towards the children once they have reached the age of 18, beyond the age of 18, and furthermore into their adulthood.
In line with the Arizona Statutory Provision, ARS 25-320, a court may order child support to continue in this manner if the child or children in question are known to have serious mental or physical disabilities.
These disabilities must be of a nature that would prevent the child, or young adult, from being able to live a normal life without assistance from others. This particular ruling may only be put in place should the child’s disability has been in place before they reached an age of majority. Simply, this means that that child’s disability should have come about in their younger years, and not be something that developed later in their teenage years or early adulthood.
If the court orders that the child support payments should continue past 18 for a disabled child, the support payment itself would be paid by the parent who is not responsible for the day-to-day care of the disabled child. This payment is then paid to the parent responsible for the day-to-day care for the disabled child, and its primary purpose is to pay towards necessary expenses for the disabled child.
How Much Child Support Should Be Paid for a Disabled Child
When determining how much should be paid in child support for a disabled child, the court will consider a number of factors. Consideration will be taken into the financial resources and needs of the child or young adult, as well as the financial resources and needs of the day-to-day caring parent, known as the parent in custody of the child. As you can imagine, the needs and associated costs of looking after a disabled child will often outweigh those of a non-disabled child, and it is often the case that child support payments for disabled children will be higher in light of this.
Things to be considered:
Standard of Living
The courts will also think about the standard of living that the child would have had should both parents have stayed together. When discussing needs of a disabled child, it may be that the marital home had undergone significant modifications with regards to the child’s disability. If so, this will need to be considered should the custodial parent needs to alter their new living arrangements to cater to the child’s disability.
Physical and Emotional Needs
The physical and emotional needs of the child will be looked upon by the courts, and these will definitely be included when considering the amount of child support for a disabled child. A medical support plan for the child in question must be present, and this should detail the child’s medical support needs, details on their medical insurance, and any services offered by the state of Arizona. However, in the case of a disabled child, this plan may be more detailed and may need more time than that of a non-disabled child.
The guidelines for child support payments in Arizona also look into whether there is any kind of excessive payment or abnormal expenditure in place that needs to be covered. Depending on the severity of the child’s disability and any special circumstances, this may also have a bearing on the amount of child support to be paid out.
The Custodial Parent
The custodial parent tends to have greater consideration, but it shouldn’t be overlooked that the court will also take into account the financial resources and needs for the non-custodial parent, and any time that the disabled child will spend with them. The court will want to look at the amount of time that the disabled child spends with the other parent and any payments that they will need to make whilst in their care. The amount that the non-custodial parent should be expected to pay should not be unjust and should be weighed in detail against the financial criteria of the custodial parent.
It is important to note that child support for a disabled child or young adult is remarkably like a standard support order and so the standard child support worksheet will often be used by Arizona courts in order to calculate and stipulate the amount of child support for a disabled child.
It should also be noted that if you wish to proceed with a court order for disabled child support, you must be able to prove that the disabled child in question is physically or mentally unable to look after themselves. This can be especially difficult when dealing with mental health disorders. It must also be proven that the parent wishing to claim child support has been given legal authority to care for the child or young adult.
Due to the many complications and difficulties that may arise when trying to work out child support for a disabled child, it is often key to enlist the services of a family law specialist. They will be able to clarify anything you are unsure of and will also be able to assist with more complicated elements of the process.
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.
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