In Arizona, child support arrangements are made when parents are divorcing or legally separating. The child support amount is based on many factors, including the parents’ incomes and the expenses of the child or children.
Over time, child support arrangements may need to be modified to reflect the current financial and personal circumstances of the parents. This can include:
- Increased or decreased income
- Loss of job or underemployment
- Health insurance coverage changes
- Recently acquired disabilities
- Incarceration and other significant living changes
Either parent can request to have the child support amount modified, regardless of who is the custodial parent. A parent can also request modification after three years, even if no significant changes have occurred in that span.
If the arrangement has been in place for less than three years, a request for modification may be filed if the adjusted support amount would be 15% higher or lower than the current amount. This is not a guarantee of modification, only a guideline as to what changes would call for an adjustment.
How to Request Child Support Modification
There are two ways parents can request to have their child support arrangements modified:
- File request by one’s self or with an attorney
- Request modification through the Division of Child Support Services (DCSS)
Both ways allow the parents to present their newly changed circumstances, and the options are largely a matter of personal preference.
It may take up to 180 days to have your request reviewed, and in each case, the court will verify the financial changes that have occurred since your arrangement was created.
To complete a modification request, the filing parent must include four documents:
- Request for Modification Review
- Affidavit of Financial Information
- Agreement to Accept Service by Mail
- Request for Modification Checklist
Each of these is available from the Arizona Department of Economic Security. Together, these will include all the personal, financial and legal documentation needed to show evidence of the changes that have occurred.
Once the packet the information is collected, you can mail the documents to DCSS or give them to your attorney for your court representation.
Decisions on Your Child Support
Once your request has been officially filed, the court will review your documents and issue its decision. You may see the child support amount go up, go down, or stay the same.
If the financial changes did not appear to meet the 15% rule, you could see the amount simply stay the same. You have ten days from receiving the results of your request to contact the Department of Child Support Enforcement (DCSE) with questions, comments or concerns you have about the results.
Factors That Can Change Child Support
Although loss of income is a common reason to have child support adjusted, there are other factors that can change child support amounts over time.
If, for example, a child grows up and requires health and medical care that was not once needed, this expense would need to be addressed. Over time, the needs of children can change just as much as the financial situations of parents.
Other factors that can impact child support include:
- Parenting time (visitation)
- Spousal support, if received by one parent
- Emancipation of children
- Additional children to support
All these factors are considered during the review process, and will be reflected in the legal decision made by the DCSE.
To learn more about what goes in to determining child support, visit the Child Support Calculator offered by the Arizona Supreme Court, which regulates child support based on the Arizona Child Support Guidelines.
Get Help with Your Child Support
If you need assistance with child support, including modification or termination, the family law team at JacksonWhite can help. We’ve worked with families and individuals across the state to get the legal results they desired.
Call the Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.