How to Modify Child Support in Arizona
More than likely if you are receiving child support or paying child support, there will be a modification of the amount at some point. This is especially likely in cases where the original child support order is entered for very young children. It should be assumed that one of the parent’s incomes will likely change over the course of years. Someone may get a raise, someone may lose his or her job, and another person may begin working after years of unemployment. These are all likely possibilities.
So what happens when one of the above situations occurs? Say for example, your ex husband is paying approximately $500 per month in child support. This was based on him making about $4,500 per month. You find out he is now making close to $10,000 per month. What is your remedy for this?
Say in another situation you have been laid off. You have actively looked for alternative employment, but have had no success for months. You are only receiving about $800 in unemployment compared to the $5,000 you were making monthly before. How are you supposed to continue making your child support payments?
When To Act
The key to filing for a modification of child support is to do it quickly. Do not wait until months later. It is important that if you cannot afford your child support payments that you file as soon as possible. If you do not, then you will have a substantial amount of child support arrears build up, which also includes interest. Further, if you wait to file to modify the amount to a higher amount, you will only receive that modified amount from the date you file.
The courts are extremely strict on retroactively modifying child support. In fact, the law is clear that child support cannot be retroactively modified. However, that being said, the courts will retroactively modify to the date you serve your Petition to Modify Child Support. So keep in mind that the longer you wait, you could be losing thousands of dollars in child support if you know the award is going to increase.
There is one other exception to retroactive child support, but that only applies to initial child support awards. If you have never received a child support order, then the court can apply retroactive child support to the date your partner stopped financially supporting your child. Just remember, this absolutely does not apply to modified child support.
Simplify and Follow The Rules
So the big question many people have is whether the process is complicated and what will one have to prove. Filing a Petition to Modify is quite simple, and the Maricopa Superior Court Self Service Center provides very detailed instructions as to what form to use and how to complete and serve the form. The trickier part will be figuring out what you need to bring when it comes time for your Child Support Conference of Hearing.
You will want to make sure you have completely filled out an Affidavit of Financial Information. Make sure you include the financial documents required by the Affidavit, including tax returns, pay stubs, and W2s. If you are self-employed, you will need to provide alternative proof of your income. You may have to provide additional information, including up to six months of pay stubs. Be sure to check your court document that includes the date of your conference and/or hearing. It will inform you of what is needed.
Remember, the process can be easy and quick. Make sure you are prepared, have all necessary financial documentation, and DO NOT WAIT!