The child support calculator is based off the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. The goal of the Arizona Child Support Guidelines is to determine the duty a person has to provide all reasonable support for that person’s natural and adopted minor, unemancipated children.
The child support calculator that is referred to in this article can be found at: www.azcourts.gov/familylaw/2011_Calc.aspx
When first looking at the child support calculator there is a space for Petitioner and Respondent’s names, the Petitioner is the party who first filed the original matter. For the purposes of the child support calculation there is no advantage or difference between the two.
The calculator next asks for Child Details. The first drop-down box asks about the time-sharing arrangement. One of the most important factors for child support is the amount of time each party has with the minor child. The more parenting time you have with the child the more expenses you incur and the guidelines take that into consideration. The parenting time arrangement can be agreed to by the parties in a stipulation or will be ordered by the Court after a final determination has been made. One of the many benefits of having an experienced family law attorney from The Cantor Law Group represent you in your family law matter is that the attorneys will aggressively advocate for the parenting time arrangement that is in your child’s best interest. The Courts in Arizona will consider a list of factors when determining parenting time and custody. Trying to navigate that path unrepresented can lead to unforeseen pitfalls, especially when the opposing party has retained an attorney who is familiar with procedures and relevant law. The matter before the Court will need to include Parenting Time, as a Petition to establish Paternity and Child Support will not determine parenting time.
After entering the time-sharing arrangement the calculator will ask you to input your children’s names and dates of birth that are common to you and the opposing party. You would not input children from another relationship; this will be accounted for later. The date of birth is relevant as there is a 10% increase in child support for a child over the age of 12, given the increasing costs of raising a teenager. In addition, this will consider that typically the support obligation will end when the minor child reaches the age of 18. There are some exceptions, including if the child is still in high school, but under the age of 19 or if the child has mental or physical disabilities.
The next factor to be considered on this calculator is the income of the parties. The first line will require real or estimated knowledge of both parties income. This can be calculated by hourly wage, monthly income, or yearly income and uses the gross income of the parties. Any Court-ordered spousal maintenance paid or received by the parties will affect the calculator, regardless if the maintenance is to or from the opposing party. The next factor the calculator will determine is if there are other child support obligations that have been court-ordered, or if there are other natural or adopted children for which there is no court-ordered support.
The calculator should now have the information needed to determine the adjusted gross monthly income of both parties, and what the basic child support obligation should be for the child or children. While inputting what you believe to be both parties gross income is one of the easier tasks in this exercise, determining the actual gross incomes of the parties and proving that to the court can be a much more difficult task. There are occasions where a party has a cash business and their tax returns do not accurately represent their income, or the person has recently quit a high paying job in an effort to thwart future obligations. The attorneys at The Cantor Law Group have had great success using the discovery process to determine the real gross income of opposing parties who are self-employed or have cash businesses. The Cantor Law Group will, where appropriate, aggressively advocate that the Court impute the income that the opposing party should reasonably be earning in the case they resign from a higher paying job, accept a lower paying position, or are currently unemployed.
There are currently a significant amount of child support orders from the past ten years that do not accurately reflect the financial situations of the parties. As the payor it is your responsibility to petition for a modification of child support. Given the current financial climate many people are earning significantly less than when their child support was ordered through no unreasonable conduct of their own. The child support order is modifiable if there has been a significant and ongoing change regarding the finances of a party. The attorney’s at The Cantor Law Group can help determine if you could qualify for a modification.
How the parties’ gross income is determined is one of the most important factors in the child support you will pay or receive. Having an experienced family law attorney guide you through this process and advocate for you and your children can help ensure that all of the relevant factors will be addressed. The cost of incorrectly determining a child support obligation can be financially crippling.
The next set of factors the Court will use are the necessary additions to the basic support. This will consider the upward adjustment for any child over the age of 12, the cost of medical, dental, and vision insurance paid by either party, the monthly childcare costs for the children, extra educational expenses paid, and extraordinary expenses paid for children who are gifted or handicapped. It should be noted that the cost of the insurance premiums should be for the children in common only, not to include the parties themselves.
Finally, the calculator will account for any arrears payments, and will then determine the party to pay the child support and the amount.
A Court has the discretion to deviate from the Child Support Guidelines; however, historically a significant deviation is unlikely without a showing of good cause.
The purpose of this calculator is informational and educational only and does not constitute legal advice. The amount of child support a court will order for any particular case may be different from the amount estimated by the calculator. The court has the final authority to determine the amount of child support awarded. The amount yielded by this calculator is only an estimate and is not a guarantee of the amount of child support that will be awarded. All of the factors listed above are relevant to the Child Support Calculations and this Summary is not meant to be an exhaustive list of the relevant facts or factors in determining child support in accordance with the guidelines. This summary is meant to inform parties of the major factors in determining child support and some of the complex issues that can arise, as well as a guide to using the child support calculator.
To determine the relevant factors for your matter, and to obtain legal advice regarding child support please consult one of the experienced Family Law attorneys at The Cantor Law Group. Call 24/7 602-254-8880.
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