Child Support

Child support is calculated according to the Arizona Child Support Guidelines, which follows the “Income Shares Model.” The model incorporates both parties’ incomes as if the parents were still living in one household sharing expenses for the child. Each parent thereby contributes his or her share of income toward the care and cost of raising the child in separate households. The child support calculator attributes other factors toward a parent’s child support obligation, such cost adjustment for additional children not common to the parties, other court ordered child support obligations, parenting time, child care expenses, health care premiums, and other extraordinary expenses.
Child Custody

Duration of Child Support

In any child support action, the court may order a presumptive termination date which is the last day of the month of the youngest child’s 18th birthday. If the child is not projected to graduate high school by their 18th birthday, the termination date may be extended to their 19th birthday or the last day of the month of their anticipated graduation date, whichever occurs first.

Calculation of Gross Income

Gross income includes income from any source, including the following: salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, recurring gifts, prizes, and spousal maintenance. Seasonal or fluctuating income is annualized. Non-recurring income need not be attributed for child support purposes.

Generally, the court will not attribute income greater than what would have been earned full time. Therefore, working overtime or a second job is not attributed toward the child support amount. If a parent is unemployed or working below their full earning capacity, the court will consider the reasons when attributing income to that parent. If the parent’s earnings are reduced by choice and for no reasonable purpose, the court may attribute income to that parent up to their full earning capacity. If a reasonable purpose, such as pursuit of a higher education, contributes to the reduction of income the court will balance the parent’s decision against the impact the parent’s share of income has toward the best interest of the child. If income is attributed to the parent receiving child support, then reasonable daycare expenses may also be attributed.

There are instances where the court may refuse to attribute income to a parent, such as, a parent is mentally or physically disabled; a parent is engaged in a reasonable career or occupational training to establish basic skills or reasonably calculated to enhance earning capacity; unusual emotional or physical needs of a natural or adopted child required that parent’s presence in the home, or; the parent is a current recipient of Temporary Assistance to Needy Families.

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Only income of the individual with a legal duty to support the child is attributed. Income from the parent’s new spouse, for example, is not calculated for purposes of child support.

Other adjustments attributing to a child support obligation

  • Children from other relationships
  • Health insurance expense
  • Child care/education expenses
  • Extraordinary child
  • Children over 12 years old
  • Parenting time credit
  • Parenting Time Adjustments

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Parenting time exercised by the non-custodial parent, calculated on an annual basis, is attributed as a cost of child rearing and lowers the child support obligation in proportion by shifting the cost from the custodial parent to the non-custodial parent. In order to adjust for the cost of parenting time, the parenting time is calculated as follows:

  • Each period of 24 hours of parenting time is counted as one day.
  • To the extent there is less than 24 hour blocks remaining after all 24 hour periods have been accounted for, the calculation is as follows:
  • A period of 12 hours or more counts as a day
  • A period of 6 to 11 hours counts as half a day
  • A period of 3 to 5 hours counts as a quarter day
  • Periods of less than 3 hours may count as a quarter day if, during those hours, the non-custodial parent pays for routing expenses of the child, such as meals.
  • Modifications to current child support order

Requests for adjustments of a child support order are determined pursuant to the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. If a substantial and continuing change in income affects the current child support obligation by at least a 15% differential, then a Simplified Modification of the current child support obligation is permissible.

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