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What is Child Support? How is it calculated? Who has to pay?

Child Support is financial support ordered to be paid by one parent for the support of a child. The amount is calculated by statutory guidelines, called “child support guidelines,” which calculated and reflected in a “child support worksheet.”

Who pays, and how much they pay is outlined in the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. Several variables have to be evaluated before an awarded amount is calculated.

Factors that determine Support:

  • Gross Monthly Income
  • Monthly Income Disparity
  • Current Spousal Maintenance received or paid by either parent
  • Child Support paid by one parent for support of children not common to the other parent
  • Amount of the medical insurance premium for the children
  • Child care expenses
  • Parenting Time Schedule

Modifying Child Support

When change to an existing court order occurs, it is called a modification.

In the context of support, modifications are pursued in the Child Support Modification Court. This court is designed to simplify and eliminate delays in seeking support modifications.  Many orders are fair and equitable when entered; however become problematic when events change in people’s lives. Procedurally, there are three different processes to file a petition to modify.

Standard Modification

Support Modification by Standard Process: Under A.R.S. § 25-327 and 25-503, either parent or state agency may ask the court to modify an order if a substantial and continuing change in circumstances is shown. Under the Standard Process, the parties receive an Order to Appear upon filing the petition. The Order grants the parties a one-hour conference to attempt to resolve the issues between the parties. If an agreement is reached it will be reduced to writing. If the parties cannot reach an agreement in the conference, they are required to attend an evidentiary hearing where a Judicial Officer will grant a final order. 

You may be able modify your Child Support Order.

Before you can modify an existing order, the court needs to review the parties current financial situation. There are two ways to qualify for a review of your support order:

  1. You can request a review every 3 years without any continuing and substantial change in circumstances.
  2. If it has been under 3 years, you must prove a substantial and continuing change of circumstances.

Under Arizona law, the Court is the only legal entity that can modify child support.  However, under certain conditions, parents can agree to a change with the Court’s approval.