A very common question in child support cases is Does child support increase with age? The technical answer is no, as a child increases in age child support does not increase with it. However, there are circumstances in which the amount of child support being paid monthly can increase.
In Arizona, the amount of child support does change to reflect the associated costs of raising the child. The law also recognizes the circumstances of the parent and the child, which in many cases, does result in increased costs. But everything depends on the details of the situation. There is no automatic increase or decrease in payments. All of the changes in payments are regulated by the court.
Papers need to be filed, and the judge will determine if the changes are warranted and in the best interests of the child. If you agree privately to increase the amount, be aware that the court does not recognize these payments. They are viewed as gifts and not support.
Valid Reasons to Change the Payment Amount of Court Ordered Child Support
- A medical concern may develope and the cost of the concern may be significant.
- Medical or dental coverage for the custodial parent is no longer in existence, perhaps due to a job change or loss.
- If either parent has had a change of income.
- If the daycare costs change. Often daycare is very expensive for young but when the child goes to school, the amount is reduced to before and after school care. And as the child gets older, the amount can be reduced to zero.
- If the parenting time changes, this can result in a different amount of support.
- If your child starts to live with the other parent for more or less time. At times, it may even mean that you receive child support payments instead of paying them.
- If the noncustodial parent is sentenced to jail or is released from jail. See below for more specifics.
- If a disability for the child is designated. Often as children face the expectations of the school system, a disability becomes evident. Or perhaps an accident occurs, causing disability. A disability also changes when the support payments end.
- If the family is receiving TANF (Temporary Assistance for Needy Families), the DCSS (Division of Child Support Services) is required to review the case every 3 years and suggest a modification of the amount of child support, if warranted
If there are any changes to the information used initially to determine support, it can affect the amount of child support. You can review what was requested to calculate the child support by taking another look at the child support calculator available online. The following information is usually used to calculate the initial child support order.
- Gross income of both parents
- Spousal maintenance paid or received by either parent
- Child support for children of other relationships
- Health insurance costs
- Extra educational expenses
- Other expenses for the child
- Parenting time, if not equal
- Any arrears owing
Other Circumstances Where Child Support Payment Amounts Can Change
Jail time. Child support is stopped for the first 90 days of incarceration automatically, except for 3 circumstances: the payer still has the financial ability to continue paying, the reason for the jail term was domestic violence, and the reason for the jail term was the failure to pay child support. Note that the child support payments resume after 90 days whether the jail term is concluded or not.
How Do You Change the Amount of Child Support?
If 3 years or longer have passed, you can go to court to have the amount changed. But there must be a significant reason for the change and the change in support needs to be at least 15%. The review of the situation may take up to 6 months depending on how quickly the facts can be established in court.
Steps to Take
There is a modification package available online or you can visit the DCSS to pick up the package. You have to fill out the forms and present them to the court clerk to begin the proceedings. Most of the time these situations are complicated, seeking out the assistance of a family law attorney can prove to be beneficial for you and your child.
If both parents agree to the change, they can propose in writing and present it in court. The judge will base the decision on the best interests of the child and has the right to issue terms that are different from what both parents had agreed.
Another consideration to take into account is that child support cannot be changed retroactively. For example, if you lose your job in July but wait to file in January, you still owe the same child support for the months in between. So, if your circumstances change significantly and you cannot obtain another job, consider filing sooner than later. The judge can change the amount of support from the date the papers were filed with the law clerk.
Legal Age that Child Support Ceases
In Arizona, child support continues until the child is 18 or 19 if the child is still attending school. Usually, the date is indicated on the child support order, so the DCSS is aware of the date. However, if the child has a disability, the child support can continue. The specifics of the case will determine the length and amount of support.
Child Support Settlement Program
In Arizona, a good amount of child support cases end up having child support payments in arrears. The DCSS has many ways in which to convince parents to pay, often resulting in interest payments, seizing funds or property, or denying the noncustodial parent licenses issued by the state or the federal government.
However, there is a means to create balance in the family. Through the sponsored program of the DCSS, the arrears are paid to the custodial parent and the noncustodial parent is left to start over. They are responsible for the regular payments from then on and this relief restores balance in the family. Now both parents can start over as the program works for the best interests of the child.
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.