Deciding who will have custody of the children after a divorce is only half the battle. In many cases, the non-custodial parent will also grant child support to the parent with primary custody, though the non-custodial parent can receive support as well. Designed to cover a range of child-rearing costs — including medical care and insurance, schooling, food, entertainment, and extracurriculars — support lasts until a child turns 18 in Arizona, unless they are still enrolled in high school after their 18th birthday.
Whether you’re the parent paying child support or the one receiving the money, you may need legal help. A child support lawyer can help facilitate the process of implementing and adjusting to a child support order. Additionally, an attorney can help you recoup back child support or adjust payment amounts as needed.
How Child Support Works in Arizona
Arizona uses an Income Shares Model when deciding child support cases. Developed by the Child Support Guidelines Project of the National Center for State Courts, the Income Shares Model estimates a child support amount based on how much parents would have spent on their children if they were all living together. The court then sets a proportionate share for each parent to contribute.
Arizona Guidelines were created to do the following:
- Establish a standard of support based on the children’s needs and parents’ ability to pay
- Standardize support orders for people in similar circumstances
- Help both parents and courts establish child support orders and settlements
- Comply with state and federal laws related to child support
It’s important to note that child support guidelines apply to all natural and adopted children, whether or not the parents were married at the time of their birth. Moreover, child support takes precedence over all other financial obligations a parent may have. Having more parenting time may not prevent you from having to pay child support.
Factors Affecting Child Support
Various factors determine whether child support is afforded to a parent and in what amount. In accordance with ARS § 25-320(D), factors considered when establishing or modifying an existing child support decision include the following:
- The child’s financial resources and needs
- The custodial and non-custodial parents’ financial resources and needs
- The standard of living the child would have had if the home remained intact
- The child’s physical, emotional, and educational needs
- The child’s medical insurance and health care plan
- Excessive or atypical expenditures related to destruction or fraudulent disposition of property held in common
- The length of parenting time
A knowledgeable family lawyer can help you determine what to expect if you are leaving child support decisions up to the court.
Consequences of Not Paying Child Support
The consequences of not paying court-ordered child support are significant. If you fail to meet your child support obligations in the eyes of the court, you may be subject to a range of punishments from fines to jail time. Here are some of the repercussions associated with paying less support than ordered or neglecting to pay all together.
Parents who had the means to pay child support but opted not to do so can be held in contempt. Depending on the circumstances of the case, the judge may order relief for the parent who has not received the owed child support. Additionally, the parent in contempt could be sentenced to serve time in jail. Typically, the parent is released from jail when back support has been paid in full.
If you owe back child support, the court may decide to garnish your wages. Under these circumstances, your employer will withhold a percentage of your paycheck every pay period. Note that federal law requires employers to report employees to the state’s new-hire directory, so the government can locate delinquent parents.
Reasons to Hire a Child Support Lawyer
Child support cases can affect your finances as well as your family’s future health and stability. To that end, it’s best to hire a family law attorney to advocate on your behalf. Here are some of the many things a child support lawyer can do in Arizona:
Ensure Accurate Filing
Filing for child support can be complicated. When you work with a family law attorney, you can feel confident knowing all the rules and regulations will be followed and the forms filled out correctly. By making sure documents are filed correctly and on time, you avoid delays and added stress.
Help Calculate Support
If you’re dealing with child support issues for the first time, you might not know what to expect. An experienced lawyer will be able to tell you what information the court uses to determine child support amounts. That way you can prepare your finances and rest assured that your children receive proper care.
Additionally, a family law attorney can help you modify child support arrangements in case of a substantial change in circumstances. A child support order may be changed if a parent becomes unemployed or has a change in income. Moreover, your support requirements may change if you have another child.
Provide Rapid Response
Having a lawyer in your corner can also be helpful in the event that you aren’t receiving the child support you were promised. In some cases, individuals may switch jobs or addresses in an effort to get out of paying. Your child support attorney can act quickly to ensure you receive the monthly income needed to care for your child.
Contact JacksonWhite Law For Help
It’s no secret that child support and custody issues can take a significant toll on a family. At JacksonWhite Law, we understand that this time in your life is stressful. To that end, we go above and beyond to treat clients with kindness and compassion every step of the way.
Call the JacksonWhite Family Law Team at (480) 467-4348 to discuss your case today.
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