What Are the Grounds for Modifying Child Support?

When child support orders are issued by a court, the terms of payment cannot be changed without court involvement. A parent can ask the court to modify a child support order only by demonstrating that a “substantial and continuing change” has occurred related to the parents’ respective incomes, child-rearing costs, parenting time or family situations.

Under Arizona law, a substantial and continuing change usually relates to one of the following circumstances:

  • Employment — In general, if a parent’s income increases or decreases by 15 percent, it may change the child support calculation.
  • Child care costs — Child support may be modified due to an increase in the cost of child care or can be recalculated when a child reaches school age and needs significantly less child care.
  • Health insurance access or cost — Changes in access to or cost of health insurance are grounds for modification.
  • Other children — Child support calculations are based in part on the number of dependents each parent has. A new baby being born or a child reaching age 18 can justify a modification.
  • Parenting time — A change in the child’s custody schedule so that he or she spends more time with the parent paying support may justify reducing that parent’s support obligation.

If three years have passed since your child support order was entered, you may ask the court to re-calculate the amount of the award even if none of the above-listed circumstances are present.

Either parent may bring the issue to the court by filing a petition to modify the child support order. The other parent then has the opportunity to object. Each parent must present evidence in support of their position. Each parent has the right to engage their own Arizona child support attorney. The court may schedule a hearing on the petition. Once the court rules, any change in child support obligations will take effect immediately unless either parent appeals.

If you are paying or receiving child support in Arizona and believe you are entitled to a modification, the attorneys of Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. are available to review your situation and advise you on your rights. Call 602-789-3497 or contact us online for a consultation at our Scottsdale office.