Child Support in Arizona

| Child Support Family Law | September 28, 2020

What is Child Support?

In simple terms, child support is financial assistance paid or received by one or both of the parents for the custodial expenses and care for the child(ren). For a more detailed answer we will refer to: A.R.S. § 25-320(A): "In a proceeding for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, maintenance or child support, the court may order either or both parents owing a duty of support to a child, born to or adopted by the parents, to pay an amount reasonable and necessary for support of the child, without regard to marital misconduct."

How is Child Support Calculated?

There are forms and calculations that help determine the amount considered. Some people think that the child support calculation is based solely on the child(ren)'s need of care or expenses. In reality there are many factors that are considered. As we continue to examine A.R.S. § 25-320, subsection D states:

 

D. The supreme court shall establish guidelines for determining the amount of child support.  The amount resulting from the application of these guidelines is the amount of child support ordered unless a written finding is made, based on criteria approved by the supreme court, that application of the guidelines would be inappropriate or unjust in a particular case.  The supreme court shall review the guidelines at least once every four years to ensure that their application results in the determination of appropriate child support amounts. The supreme court shall base the guidelines and criteria for deviation from them on all relevant factors, considered together and weighed in conjunction with each other, including:

1. The financial resources and needs of the child.

2. The financial resources and needs of the custodial parent.

3. The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the child lived in an intact home with both parents to the extent it is economically feasible considering the resources of each parent and each parent's need to maintain a home and to provide support for the child when the child is with that parent.

4. The physical and emotional condition of the child, and the child's educational needs.

5. The financial resources and needs of the noncustodial parent.

6. The medical support plan for the child.  The plan should include the child's medical support needs, the availability of medical insurance or services provided by the Arizona health care cost containment system and whether a cash medical support order is necessary.

7. Excessive or abnormal expenditures, destruction, concealment or fraudulent disposition of community, joint tenancy and other property held in common.

8. The duration of parenting time and related expenses.

Are Child Support Orders only Valid for Minor Children?

Although it is typical that child support orders are valid until a child is 18, there are other factors that may prolong the order beyond the child's 18th birthday.  This may include a child that is still in high school past the age of 18 as well as children with disabilities. Subsections E and F delve specifically into this matter:

E. Even if a child is over the age of majority when a petition is filed or at the time of the final decree, the court may order support to continue past the age of majority if all of the following are true:

1. The court has considered the factors prescribed in subsection D of this section.

2. The child has severe mental or physical disabilities as demonstrated by the fact that the child is unable to live independently and be self-supporting.

3. The child's disability began before the child reached the age of majority.

F. If a child reaches the age of majority while the child is attending high school or a certified high school equivalency program, support shall continue to be provided during the period in which the child is actually attending high school or the equivalency program but only until the child reaches nineteen years of age unless the court enters an order pursuant to subsection E of this section.  Notwithstanding any other law, a parent paying support for a child over the age of majority pursuant to this section is entitled to obtain all records related to the attendance of the child in the high school or equivalency program.

Can Child Support be Retroactive?

Yes, and once again the statute shares specific information regarding this matter. A.R.S. § 25-320 (B)(C):

B. If child support has not been ordered by a child support order and if the court deems child support appropriate, the court shall direct, using a retroactive application of the child support guidelines to the date of filing a dissolution of marriage, legal separation, maintenance or child support proceeding, the amount that the parents shall pay for the past support of the child and the manner in which payment shall be paid, taking into account any amount of temporary or voluntary support that has been paid. Retroactive child support is enforceable in any manner provided by law.

C. If the parties lived apart before the date of the filing for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, maintenance or child support and if child support has not been ordered by a child support order, the court may order child support retroactively to the date of separation, but not more than three years before the date of the filing for dissolution of marriage, legal separation, maintenance or child support. The court must first consider all relevant circumstances, including the conduct or motivation of the parties in that filing and the diligence with which service of process was attempted on the obligor spouse or was frustrated by the obligor spouse. If the court determines that child support is appropriate, the court shall direct, using a retroactive application of the child support guidelines, the amount that the parents must pay for the past support of the child and the manner in which payments must be paid, taking into account any amount of temporary or voluntary support that has been paid.

So Where do I Start?

We often suggest that it is always good to start by speaking with an experienced divorce and family law attorney first. This will allow for the lawyer to assist you in the next steps including the gathering of any necessary information and paperwork as well to help in preparing petitions or other legal items.

At Duenas Eden Law, we are experienced and trusted divorce and family law attorneys in Phoenix, Arizona. Our Office in the Ahwatukee area of Phoenix, AZ and we serve the communities of Chandler, Tempe, Laveen, Mesa, Gilbert and San Tan Valley in child support and other family law matters. Call today: (480) 285-1735.

Duenas Eden remains open and available to help during these trying times. We are back in the office and offering videoconferencing appointments as much as possible. Per CDC guidelines, we are wearing masks and request that anyone visiting our offices do so as well. If you feel ill, please let us know and we will be happy to reschedule your appointment.

Sources:
https://www.azleg.gov/ars/13/01302.htm


Something Has Changed…Modifying a Decree of Dissolution of Marriage (Maybe) – Divorce

| Alimony / Spousal Maintenance Attorneys at Law Child Support Divorce Legally Speaking | March 11, 2020

What is a Divorce Decree?

In the ever-changing society we live, people are filled with reasons why they want to modify some portion of their divorce decree. There are things that can be changed and things that cannot.

Perhaps I should back up and explain what is in a divorce decree. When two people get divorced or dissolve their marriage, they are supposed to divide their assets (house, vehicles, bank accounts, retirement accounts, etc.) and their liabilities (credit card debt, student loans, vehicle loans, etc.) between them. There must also be orders about their children, child support and spousal maintenance.

Can I get a “Do-Over” in Division of Property or Debt?

Usually, after the divorce decree has been signed, the court will not modify property and debt division. There may be certain circumstances when these things may be revisited and modified, but generally speaking, a party does not get a “do-over” if they received or negotiated a bad property deal.

Decree Changes Regarding Children

Unlike property and debt division, anything related to children – custody, parenting time and child support are always modifiable upon a showing of a substantial and continuing change in circumstances or a showing that it is in the child’s best interest. Which one depends on the situation? Why are people able to change these orders? Because children and their needs are ever changing, orders must be as well.

Spousal Maintenance (Alimony) Changes

Spousal maintenance or alimony may be modified depending on the situation, such as if a spouse has changed employment, finished schooling or something else which results in a change in income. If the parties agree, they may make the spousal maintenance unable to be modified.

Modifying a Court Order

So how does one go about modifying a court order? If it relates to children, the parties can participate in mediation through the court and if an agreement is reached, oftentimes the mediator will prepare the necessary paperwork to reflect the agreement. If an agreement cannot be reached, then one person has to file a request to modify through the court. It is a lengthy process that may take a few months or more to resolve. Emergency modifications are usually limited to very narrow and discrete situations, which would have to be the topic of another article.

The failure of one parent to plan accordingly does not create an emergency situation – i.e., if a parent wants to modify a child’s school, the time to request such a modification is not right before school starts.

Questions? Consult with a Family Law Attorney at Duenas Eden Law

If you have questions about whether you are able to modify an existing family court order, you should consult with a family law attorney.

If you would like do discuss further, please contact the Family Law Attorneys at Duenas Eden Law, PLC. We are experienced and trusted lawyers focusing on Family Law including; Divorce, Child Custody Cases, Child Support, Spousal Support, Same-Sex Legal Issues and other Family Law matters. We are Family Law and Child Custody Lawyers servicing Ahwatukee, Laveen, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert. Call today: (480) 285-1735.

Dorian Eden Attorney at Law Duenas Eden Law Family Law Ahwatukee AZ
By Dorian L. Eden
Adapted from the original published article in the September 2012 edition of Ocotillo Living

Happy Holidays. Think Child Support and Taxes

| Child Support Legally Speaking | December 11, 2019

Current Year’s Child Support Must be Paid in Full by December, 31st

Happy Holidays! This is an exciting time of year with many holidays, celebrations, and tidings of joy and goodwill. And if child support obligations are not paid in full by December 31, then a child likely cannot be claimed for the tax dependency exemption come April 15. While this may Vascular Surgeon, not fit into the spirit of the season, it remains a vitally important part of your annual tax planning.

Division of Child Tax Dependency Exemption

If there is an order for child support, issued by an Arizona court, then there is also an order regarding division of the child tax dependency exemption. There is also an order relating to how the parents are to share in non-covered medical, dental, vision and sometimes orthodontia expenses.

Although most family law attorneys (myself included) do not give tax advice, we do have to discuss some tax issues. The child tax dependency exemption is a big one. As you may know, there is an exemption that may benefit a tax payor upon filing. Typically, the dependency exemptions are divided in one of two ways: (1) equally or (2) following the child support percentages of income. Any tax questions on what this means or how this could affect you should be directed to a certified public accountant.

Child Support Arrearages

In order for a parent to be able to claim a child for the tax dependency exemption and receive this benefit, usually that parent must be current on child support for that tax year. That doesn’t mean if there are child support arrearages owed then all of the arrears must be paid in full as well. However, if there is an order for payment of arrearages, then the arrearages must be paid per the order for that tax year. Meaning, if someone is to pay $50.00 a month toward arrearages, then if $600 was paid toward arrearages by December 31, the arrearage is paid per the order for that tax year.

For a child support order that does not include arrearages, as long as the parent who is ordered to pay child support has paid the full amount owed for that year by December 31, then the payor parent is able to claim the child when taxes are filed.

A Wrongful Claim of the Child Tax Dependency Exemption

What happens if a parent wrongfully claims a child for tax dependency purposes – either because it is not their year to claim or because they are not current on child support or courtordered arrearages for that year? In that case, it is extremely important to consult with a certified public accountant to discuss what rights or obligations may exist. The family court may also step in to order a parent to reimburse the other parent for the loss of the value of the tax dependency exemption or modify the child support order regarding how the tax dependency exemption will be shared. In other words, it could mean money to the one who lost out or having to pay money to the one who wrongfully took the exemption.

Consult with an Experienced Family Law Attorney and CPA

The child tax dependency exemption has value. If you have questions about the tax exemption, please consult with an experienced family law attorney and also a certified public accountant. Duenas Eden Law, PLC listens to your needs to resolve your case. We are trusted attorneys in Divorce, Child Custody Cases, Child Support, Spousal Support, Same-Sex Legal Issues and other Family Law matters. Serving the Phoenix metro area including Ahawatukee, Laveen, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert. Trust the Family Law Attorneys of Duenas Eden Law, PLC. Call today: (480) 285-1735.

Family Law Attorney in Phoenix / Ahwatukee Dorian Eden
By Dorian L. Eden
Originally published in the December 2013 edition of Ocotillo Living

What Goes into a Child Support Calculation?

| Child Support Legally Speaking | December 5, 2019

News flash…child support is not based on the children’s expenses (usually). As a family law attorney, I hear myself saying this to clients or potential clients on a regular basis. Child support is based on the parent’s incomes.

Arizona has child support guidelines and a calculator, which is very easy to use.

You plug in the appropriate numbers and magically child support is calculated. Sound easy? In theory yes, but it begs the question of what numbers to use.

Incomes are sometimes easily determined and sometimes not so much. If one parent isn’t working, the court may still attribute income to that parent-it might be minimum wage or something much greater. How much is very case and fact-specific. The presumption is that both parents are able to contribute to the cost of raising their child, which is why both parents will typically have some income amount listed-even if one is not working.

Why not base child support on expenses?

While parents (and attorneys) will argue over one’s income, if a child’s expenses were to be used, it would be even more problematic. How do you attribute expenses if one parent shops at discount stores for the child and other at higher-end stores? How many pairs of shoes does a child need? Is one too few? Is fifteen too many? What is the right number? To eliminate those arguments, we use incomes.

Of course for self-employed parents or those who receive the bulk of their income in cash tips, such as a hairdresser or massage therapist, incomes may be slightly more difficult to determine, as opposed to a salaried employee.

Other things may also effect child support

Supporting other children not common to the parties, which parent pays health insurance for the child and the cost associated with that, childcare or private school tuition costs, are among the most common. The other, and biggest factor-the amount of time each parent has with the children.

With child support comes a determination of how to share noncovered medical expenses, such as copays and deductibles for the child, and the division of the child tax dependency exemption.

While the calculator is available for free on the Arizona Supreme Court and Maricopa County Superior Court websites, choosing which numbers to use is often the biggest issue people have. If you have questions about child support, how much you are currently paying, how much you should receive, or whether it can be modified, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney.

Contact a Trusted Attorney

Duenas Eden Law, PLC listens to your needs to resolve your case. We are trusted attorneys in Divorce, Child Custody Cases, Child Support, Spousal Support, Same-Sex Legal Issues and other Family Law matters. Serving the Phoenix metro area including Ahawatukee, Laveen, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert. Trust the Family Law Attorneys of Duenas Eden Law, PLC. Call today: (480) 285-1735.

Family Law Attorney in Phoenix / Ahwatukee Dorian Eden
By Dorian L. Eden
Originally published in the December 2012 edition of Ocotillo Living

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