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Child Support

If you want to calculate what a child support amount would be based upon a variety of assumptions you can skip the following explanation and calculate hypothetical child support obligations using the Online Child Support Calculator.

The following explanation is intended to provide additional information about child support calculation, some insight into what factors impact the child support amount, and the rationale behind the calculations.

Arizona relies upon a formula arising from its child support guidelines to determine the amount of child support. The court may award a different amount than set forth in the guidelines. However, if so, the court must provide the reasons why the guidelines were not followed and why a deviation is in the best interest of the minor child in a particular case. A.R.S. § 25-320(D).

The child support guidelines arrive at a child support amount that is based on the gross income of the parties. Gross income includes money received from anywhere except public assistance. If a party is self-employed, then necessary expenses like cost of goods sold and normal business expenses may be deducted from the gross income. If an employee receives certain reimbursements or benefits in his or her employment such as a car allowance or reimbursement for cellular phone expenses, the court may consider these as income as well.

When a parent is unemployed or working below full earning capacity, the court will consider the reason. If the court finds that the income is reduced as a matter of choice, then the court may disregard the reduction and attribute some amount as gross income despite the party not actually earning that amount. When determining gross income, the court will deduct spousal maintenance and child support actually paid out by a party based upon a prior court order as well as the cost of any court-ordered medical insurance coverage for the children.

The allowable deductions are subtracted from each parent’s total income, establishing the “adjusted gross income” of each parent. The adjusted gross incomes are combined to determine the proper child support obligation in the child support amount schedule. The non-custodial parent then receives an adjustment for parenting time assigned to them. Each parent also receives a certain amount that is retained by them for personal living expenses called the self-support reserve.

After the scheduled child support amount has been determined, the following obligations may be added to the support obligation:

  1. Child care costs,
  2. Necessary educational expenses such as private school or special school, and
  3. A ten percent increase for a child over twelve years of age.

The total child support obligation is the scheduled amount plus any of the amounts set forth above. The total child support obligation is divided between the parents in proportion to their respective shares of the combined adjusted gross income. The non-custodial parent must pay his or her amount to the custodial parent.

An order for child support must state which parent shall be responsible for providing medical insurance for the children and the court should further specify the percentage that each parent shall pay for medical expenses not covered by insurance. A.R.S. § 25-320.

A parent who wants to calculate what a child support amount would be based upon a variety of assumptions may calculate their obligation using the Online Child Support Calculator.

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