Arizona has child support guidelines. These were established after years of research and public input as to what it takes to support children at various income levels. These guidelines are reviewed regularly and adjusted for inflation. While you may not think the figures on these guidelines are fair (and you can take that up with your legislator and/or the committee, as they do accept public comment), they are the law. As while “guidelines”, the law dictates when the court may deviate from them. And one reason NOT given is solely because both parents agree. And this is because the court is looking to protect the children. As in some cases, one parent may agree to something that really isn’t best for the children. But are only agreeing to it in order to just move on with the divorce and/or because they were forced to. Granted, this doesn’t happen often, but this is why we have the guidelines. However, most parents who are fairly involved in their child’s lives know what it takes to support their children so usually what most people have agreed to isn’t too far off from the guidelines. And it does seem that if the guideline amount and the amount agreed to aren’t too far apart, the court will go along with the agreed-upon amount. But the court DOES have the final say.
Our office can help calculate what the guideline child support should be. Factors to determine this include both parents actual or capable incomes (so even a parent not working might be attributed an income), the number of children (both from the marriage and outside of it), the ages of the children, the cost of childcare, the cost of medical insurance for the children, and, most important, how often each parent will have the children. Know that an award of joint legal decision making and/or even joint (equal) time does NOT negate that there might be child support.
But also know that child support is not set in stone forever. As the guidelines also allow that if there is a substantial and continuing change in circumstance (again, if any of the above changes, particularly the amount of time each parent has the children), a person can request a modification of child support. Although what many parents do rather than filing a formal modification is simply to find out what the new amount should be and then work it out between them (ie: rather than now paying less child support, the other parent might then pay for more of the child’s activities or instead of one parent now paying more, instead he or she just agrees to let the other parent claim the child every year for taxes). Is this the best way to handle things? Possibly not. But it could be cheaper and easier than filing a formal modification.
Call our office at 520-544-9888 and we can do a quick calculation to see what your child support should be.