In this article, you will discover:
- How to establish child support before the divorce is final.
- The three critical factors used in calculating child support in Arizona.
- Your rights when it comes to spending child support payments.
When Will Child Support Be Awarded During The Arizona Divorce Process?
At what point child support is awarded in a divorce will depend on when someone asks for it. If no one asks during the case, it is going to be awarded at the end of the case. Usually, I tell people child support is something we should sort out sooner. We should get a temporary order in place, at the least. That can be done within a couple of months of filing for divorce.
There are three phases of child support:
- Child support for up to three years back from when the case was filed.
- Child support from when the case was filed up to when a judgment is entered.
- Child support from when a judgment is entered to the time the child turns 18—unless we modify it.
Getting this sorted out sooner rather than later will prevent a buildup of support from being paid at the end when they finally determine it. It is a bad surprise to get to the point of officially being divorced to find out you owe all this extra child support from the start of the case. It’s better to sort it out with a temporary order. If you don’t, it will be sorted out at the end and may not be what you wanted it to be.
How Is The Amount Of Child Support Determined In A Divorce Case In Arizona?
We have the Arizona Child Support Guidelines to calculate child support in Arizona. You put some numbers into a state-approved calculator, the most important numbers being,
- how much each parent makes,
- how many kids they have, and
- the parenting time plan.
Other numbers play into it as well, like the cost of insurance or childcare. We plug these numbers into the calculator and see what result it gives us.
We often go with that amount as the child support amount, but sometimes we argue for a deviation, which means asking the court not to apply the calculator’s result. We may argue that the amount should be higher or lower for a specific reason. In about 10% of cases, we may deviate from the state-approved guidelines instead of referring to whatever the calculator tells us.
We may argue support should be higher because both parents have a lot of money, and the kids are used to a more extravagant lifestyle. They need a little more support to keep up with that lifestyle. Maybe support should be lower because one parent will be doing all the driving, back and forth, because they live in separate counties. They have to account for the high transportation expense, so they shouldn’t pay as much in support. Everyone’s life is unique, and the unique circumstances of a person’s life tell us whether we need to deviate.
Does The Paying Parent Have Any Say In How Child Support Is Spent?
It comes as a surprise to a lot of people, but the paying parent does not really get a say in how support is spent. Some people get mad, saying, “Why am I paying all this child support? This other person is just using it to buy video games, or to get their hair and nails done, or whatever!” That doesn’t matter. They are allowed to do whatever they want with the child support money they receive.
We don’t investigate how support is being spent. It’s not a reason to change things. Sometimes that’s not the answer you want to hear. However, if there is no need for support, maybe there is a real reason to justify a modification. For example, your expenses are much higher because you pay for everything else for the child. Maybe you are paying for extra medical costs, and the other parent isn’t contributing. Then maybe you have a reason to change the amount. But you can’t change things for no other reason than because disagree with how they spend the money. Sorry, you are out of luck there.