Man with Child During Custody Visit

Understanding How Custody Affects Child Support in Arizona

When parents divorce, a court must decide how much child support the custodial parent should receive from the non-custodial parent. Arizona uses an income-based model in calculating child support, starting from the premise that even if parents are no longer living together, they should continue to contribute to the needs of their child equally. However, if a child ultimately spends more time with one parent than another, the amount of each parent’s child support obligation is apportioned to be consistent with the actual time spent with the child.

While this is a seemingly fair arrangement, in many families the income of the parents may be significantly different. In some circumstances, one parent may stay at home and not work at all, while the other has a job that pays all of the family expenses. In other cases, a parent may be working a part-time job in order to provide better child care or while looking for full-time employment after a divorce.

In 2022, Arizona enacted changes to the state child support guidelines to try to address situations where there are significant disparities in income between the parents. Arizona courts may now consider the disparity of income between two parents and modify child support awards accordingly. This change in the guidelines acknowledges that even if both parents are contributing similar amounts, the impact of those contributions on their overall financial situation can be very different depending on how much income they are actually earning.

Thanks to this guidelines change, parents may now seek modification of existing child support orders to address significant income disparities in their relationships. If you are in a situation where your former spouse makes significantly more than you and you would like to see your child support modified, or if you are concerned that your former spouse may seek a modification based on your own income, it can be helpful to speak with an experienced child support attorney. Your attorney can assist you in seeking a modification or in responding to a request for modification from your former partner.

At Clark and Schloss Family Law, P.C. in Scottsdale, we represent parents seeking child support, both during divorce and in subsequent proceedings. We can work with you to evaluate your needs and obligations under Arizona’s new child support guidelines. If you have questions or need representation, please call our Scottsdale office at 602-789-3497 or contact us online anytime.