How is Arizona Child Support Adjusted for Parenting Time?

After a divorce, each parent’s obligation to support their children continues. Generally, child support is paid to the parent with whom the child lives, but if parenting time is shared, payments are calculated with that in mind. In Arizona, child support payments are apportioned based on — among other factors — how much time each parent spends with a child. The assumption is that the more time a child is with a parent, the more money that parent spends for the child’s benefit.

Arizona's guidelines for child support

Under Arizona’s guidelines for child support, each parent’s obligation is based on their income. The higher earning parent pays the lower earning parent an amount of money to fairly apportion the child support costs. The guidelines also provide formulas for using parenting time to adjust child support. Parenting time is measured by what are called guideline days. A child is considered to be with a parent for an entire day (one guideline day) if they are together 12 hours or more that day. Fractions of a day are included in measuring parenting time if the parent and child are together for less than 12 hours. The parent who has substantially more guideline days with the child receives a monetary adjustment from the parent who spends less time with the child.

The apportionment calculations get more complicated when there is more than one child and parenting time is divided differently among the children. As these situations are fairly common, the child support guidelines have appropriate formulas for computing each parent’s total obligation.

In those instances where parenting time is divided equally, there is no parenting time adjustment.

Using the child support calculation for parenting time

Note that each parent is not always required to pay or receive the amounts calculated in the child support guidelines. The courts usually refer to and apply the guidelines, but in certain circumstances a judge may deviate from the guidelines and apportion payments based on other factors — always with the children’s best interests in mind.

Child support cases can be contentious, especially when the allocation of parenting time is disputed. Further, support orders can have a significant impact on each party’s finances. An experienced family law attorney can help make sure that the children’s well-being and your finances are both protected.

Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale offers reliable advice on child support and other family legal issues throughout Arizona. To schedule a consultation with one of our skilled attorneys about your case, please call 602-789-3497 or contact us online.