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Arizona Child Support Guidelines

In June 2010, the Arizona Judicial Council tentatively approved a new set of child support guidelines set to go into effect on January 1, 2011. The proposed guidelines would change the current child support system from an Income Shares Model to a Child Outcome Based Support Model. This change may be problematic for non custodial parents because child support payments may considerably increase for the majority of people.

After much deliberation, the Arizona Judicial Council has decided to push back the implementation of the Child Outcome Bases Support Model. There are some changes to the child support guidelines that are effective as of June 1, 2011. Because the Child Outcome Bases Support Model is still on the agenda, it is important to seek legal counsel that understands the COBS model for child support. It is necessary to have a family law attorney that is aware and prepared to navigate through the current Arizona Child Support Guidelines because the guidelines can have an impact on property division, spousal maintenance and of course child support payments.

Scottsdale and Phoenix Child Support Lawyer

When and if the new guidelines go into effect, an influx of people will need to recalculate support. Doug Daly is up to date with the new and old child support guidelines and is ready to advocate for reasonable child support under the current Arizona child support guidelines. The Daly Firm can also assist with modifications when the new guidelines are set in place. Call The Daly Law Firm at (480) 607-8308 for a free consultation about your child support concerns.


Arizona Child Support Guidelines Information Center


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What is the Income Shares Model to Child Support?

The purpose of child support is to make sure the child does not suffer financial hardship due to the parents not living together. Historically, child support in Arizona was based on the amount of money it takes to raise a child. The Income Shares Model purpose was to ensure the same amount is spent on the child as if the parents are still together.

The child support that the non-custodial parent pays is determined by:

  • The number of children
  • The amount of parenting time
  • Income of the non-custodial parent

There are additional factors that come into play, but family dynamics are so varied the court looks at each case individually. Talk to an experienced Arizona child support lawyer to get answers about your specific situation.

With the Income Shares Model, the monetary needs of the child are the main consideration. As long as the child is getting all their needs met then the child should not be harmed by the parents’ separation.

Some critics claim that the Income Shares Model does not ensure a comparable living standard between the two parents. One parent could live in a house and the other parent could live in an apartment. If the child splits time between an apartment and a house then that is not the same living standard.

There are numerous law journal articles and psychology articles about the well being of children after parents separate. The law tries to create a model that will make sure that children are raised in the manner that best protects their physical, emotional and mental health under the circumstances of the parents’ separation.


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What is the Child Outcome Bases Support Model?

The Child Outcome Bases Support Model (COBS) seeks to make sure that the parents provide an equal economic standing in both households. In theory, the custodial parent has a higher financial burden because he or she has to take care of the child on a daily basis. The non-custodial parent usually has shorter amounts of time with the child so his or her income should be higher than the custodial parent’s income. Of course this premise does not hold true for all situations.

The current theory behind the COBS model proposes that the income of the custodial parent and the non-custodial parent need to be equal. In cases where the non-custodial parent earns more, the child support payments will be greatly increased to bring up the custodial parent’s income level. In cases where the custodial parent earns more, the non-custodial parent will not have to pay as much under the COBS model.


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What is controversial about the Child Outcome Bases Support Model?

Critics claim the COBS model places too much emphasis on the parents’ income and neglects the actual financial needs of the child. In Arizona, the parent with more parenting time is usually designated as the custodial parent. Usually the mother has more parenting time especially with younger children so she is the custodial parent. The large majority of fathers are non-custodial parents so they have to pay child support.

The critics argue the COBS model basically combining alimony with child support if the focus is to get an equal financial status for both the mother and father. The policy makers who designed the COBS model disagree and say that if the parents have the same financial status, it will create 2 equally stable home environments for the child which will improve the child’s well being.

The other concerns about the COBS model are:

  • It will encourage divorce because the custodial parent will receive a higher monthly payment.
  • Alimony is tax deductible and child support is not tax deductible. By elevating the whole household rather than just providing for the child’s needs the non-custodial parent is at a disadvantage.
  • Money will become a more legitimate focus with custody battles instead of the best interest of the child.
  • The custodial parent will have less incentive to find employment if the non-custodial parent is responsible for maintaining income levels.

Some of these fears may be unfounded. Because child custody and child support are decided on a case by case basis, the judge will have discretion to make the final order. If it is clear that the parties are acting in bad faith, the judge has the power not to follow the guidelines.


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What are the current Arizona Child Support Guidelines?

The current Arizona Child Support Guidelines are very detailed. It is important to seek legal advice in determining how much child support you are required to pay. Below is a general summary of all the sections of the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. You can get the detailed guidelines in the resources section below or contact The Daly Law Firm for a free consultation about the Arizona Child Support Guidelines.

Currently Arizona bases child support obligations on the combined incomes of the parties. After the combined income of the parents is established, the court will adjust the child support payments based on:

  • Spousal maintenance payments
  • Child support for other children
  • Health insurance payments
  • Age adjustments for the child
  • Parenting Time

The parent paying child support can get credits and decreased child support payments after the court considers all of the above factors. Arizona also has a number of child support calculators where you can put in the cost of several of these factors in order to get a rough estimate of your child support obligation.


The Arizona Child Support Guidelines Sections are as follows:

  • Section 1

      Background: Arizona Child support is based on the Income Shares Model

  • Section 2

      Premises: Child support obligations have priority over all other financial obligations

  • Section 3

      Presumption: It is presumed that amount of child support ordered is necessary for the support of the child.

  • Section 4

      Duration of Child Support: The default rule is child support will continue until the child turns 18 years old or graduates high school. The duration may be longer for children with special needs or other circumstances.

  • Section 5

      Determination of The Gross Income of the Parents: Gross income means steady income from any source such as salaries, commissions, pensions, trusts, social security, unemployment benefits etc. Courts usually don’t include overtime, welfare assistance or child support received for another child in the calculation of gross income.

  • Section 6

      Adjustments to Gross Income: This section talks about adjustment of the gross income for calculating the child support percentages and the child support award itself.

  • Section 7

      Determining the Adjusted Gross Income of the Parent: There are a number of tables and schedules you can utilize to find out your particular adjusted gross income.

  • Section 8

      Determining the Total Child Support Income: This section talks about the combined gross income of $20,000 per month between 2 parents and a maximum of 6 kids.

  • Section 9A

      This section talks about health insurance for the children. Usually one parent is designated to keep insurance coverage over a child, but both parents can share the obligation of paying for the insurance.

  • Section 9B

      This section talks about child care costs such as private school and other costs. Costs for special needs children are also discussed in this section.

  • Section 10

      Determining Each Parent’s Proportionate Share of the Total Child Support Obligations: There are tables and schedules to help parents calculate their proportionate share based on their personal income.

  • Section 11

      Adjustment for Costs Associated with Parenting Time

      The parenting time adjustments set forth by the guidelines are rounded up as follows:

      • 12 hours or more = one day (1)
      • 6 to 11 hours = half a day (1/2)
      • 3 to 5 hours = one fourth a day (1/4)
      • Less than 3 hours can count as ¼ a day if meals and other expenses are included.

      Add up the total amount of days in a year and then you are able to calculate the parenting time adjustment using the appropriate charts.

  • Section 12

      Equal Custody: If there is equal custody, then a parenting time adjustment does not apply to the child support obligation.

  • Section 13

      Adjustment for Other Costs: It depends on the additional needs of the child how to adjust for other costs.

  • Section 14

      Determining the Child Support Order: Based on the income of the parents, parenting time and other considerations, the child support order will be determined.

  • Section 15

      Self Support Reserve Test: The court will verify that the non-custodial parent is financially able to pay for child support and maintain a minimum standard of living.

  • Section 16

      Multiple Children, Divided Custody: This section applies if the parents have multiple children but the father has custody of some of the children and the mother has custody of the other children. An example is the father could have custody of 2 and the mother has custody of 1. Two child support orders are necessary because the mother has to pay child support to the father for the 2 kids and the father needs to pay child support to the mother for the one child. You need to calculate the orders for both parents separately. You compare the 2 orders and the parent that has the higher support obligation owes the other parent the difference.

  • Section 17

      Child Support Assigned to the State: Even if child support is assigned to the state, it does not eliminate the parent’s child support obligation.

  • Section 18

      Travel Expenses Associated with Parenting Time: This section is applicable if the parents live in different states. Travel costs become a factor in calculating parenting time and income adjustments.

  • Section 19

      Gifts in Lieu of Money: Child support can only be paid in money. You cannot use the purchase of clothes, shoes, and other things as payment of child support

  • Section 20

      In cases with significant disparity of income between the custodial and noncustodial parent, a deviation may be appropriate.

  • Section 21

      Third Party Caregivers: The third party caregiver is entitled to receive child support from both of the child’s parents.

  • Section 22

      Court Findings: The court will make a final ruling about

      • Gross Income
      • Adjusted Gross Income
      • Basic Child Support Obligation
      • Total Child Support Obligation
      • Each parent's proportionate share of the child support obligation
      • The child support order
  • Section 23

      Exchange of Information: The court orders that the following information must be exchanged between the parties within 24 months:

      • Tax returns
      • Financial Affidavits
      • Earning statements
      • Residential addresses
      • Names and Addresses of Employers
  • Section 24

      Modification: There are 2 types of child support modifications:

      • Standard Procedure- the party must show a substantial and continuing change of circumstances
      • Simplified Procedure- the party must show a fifteen percent variation in the amount of the order as evidence of substantial and continuing change of circumstances.
  • Section 25

      Effects of Cessation of Child Support for one Child: Child support obligations do not automatically stop for all children just because the child support order stops for one child.

  • Section 26

      Income and Benefits Received by or on Behalf of a Child: Income and benefits received by the child do not fulfill the parent’s child support obligation. The parent still needs to the child support calculated by the court.

  • Section 27

      Federal Tax Exemption For Dependent Children: The tax exemptions for minor children are divided proportionate to the adjusted gross income and child support contributions. The 27 sections of the Arizona Child Support Guidelines contain grids, tables and examples that will help you in determining your child support payments. Seek competent legal advice to make sure you are paying the correct amount in child support.


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Resources

Current Arizona Child Support Guidelines– The current Arizona Child Support Guidelines are provided in this link.

Arizona Child Support Guidelines– The previous Arizona Child Support Guidelines are provided in this link.

Proposed Arizona Child Support Guidelines – The Child Support Guidelines might be modified Jan 1, 2011. Here are the proposed changes to the guidelines.


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Daly Law Firm, PLLC - Phoenix Child Support Attorney

Child support can be difficult and confusing. It is best to get legal advice from an experienced Scottsdale child support lawyer at the very beginning of your child support case to ensure you pay or receive the correct amount of child support. If you are going through a child support dispute in the Phoenix, Scottsdale, Maricopa County area, don’t hesitate to call The Daly Firm at (480) 607-8308 for a free consultation.

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