Child support is the most serious financial obligation you will likely ever face, and if it isn’t paid, there can be significant and unavoidable consequences. In the event that you owe child support or are trying to figure out what the right amount of support you should be receiving, you may want to talk to a skilled family law attorney.
While the child support calculator can seem very simple, figuring how much income you or your child’s other parent earns can be complicated. Qualified legal counsel could help you understand and work through common issues in Mesa child support cases, so you can obtain a result that works for all parties involved.
Frequency of Support Cases
The vast majority of divorced or unmarried parents face child support as an issue. They are either paying or receiving child support, and the payment amount is always subject to modification whenever there is a “change in circumstances.” Qualifying circumstances include changes in the income of either parent, parenting time, childcare, or the birth of other children. The list goes on. There are many moving parts that can affect a child support order, but these changes are not automatic. It requires action by one of the parents.
In Arizona, child support is paid until the child turns 18 or graduates high school, whichever happens second. For instance, if your child turns 18 in January but doesn’t graduate school until May or June, then child support obligations would continue until when your child graduates. Parents can agree that payments would continue through college, but in Arizona a court wouldn’t order a child support obligation extend into adulthood for a non-disabled child.
When Might Child Support Issues Arise?
A lot of the issues that divorced parents have pertain to what’s included in child support. There are many expenses associated with children that aren’t necessarily talked about explicitly within child support orders—extracurricular activities, school lunches and supplies, and things like that. All those things might be peripheral issues to child support, but they still need to be addressed.
The idea with child support is that the children should have essentially a similar lifestyle when they are living in two households, as they would have had if their parents were married. In Arizona, child support is calculated based on allocated or imputed income, so even if you’re unemployed or there are gaps in employment, your child support obligation does not stop. It’s on the person who loses employment to ask for a modification of child support.
Length of the marriage, length of employment, and whether you were married or unmarried when the child was born doesn’t impact child support at all, but percentage of income does. The two largest factors for child support are income and parenting time.
Recently Acquired Income Deficiency Syndrome
Recently acquired income deficiency syndrome is when a high earning spouse, perhaps a business owner, suddenly becomes broken after filing for divorce. It’s not uncommon for income to drop during this period—a parent may be seeking to avoid child support or supporting the other spouse, or the divorce process itself could be traumatic enough to affect either party’s ability to work, especially if they are self-employed or otherwise directly responsible for their own income.
Going through massive trauma and change can and does have an impact on a person’s ability to earn income, so the income someone had when they were happily married is not usually the income that they have once they are going through a divorce. You may really struggle to pay your bills when you’re going through divorce, and you may feel like you’re unable to provide support either in terms of spousal maintenance or child support. However, at Modern Law we know when a spouse is purposefully underperforming in order to avoid supporting their family, and we won’t let it happen. In one case, an underperforming ex-husband was ordered to pay PERMANENT spousal maintenance, even though he claimed to be broke.
Rights Available to People Paying Child Support
A person who’s paying child support has the rights to ensure their child support amount is correct, to not have to overpay, and to pay according to the standard calculator, unless a judge orders a child support deviation. Likewise, the judge has the discretion to order a child support deviation—either up or down—depending on the circumstances.
Additionally, regardless of whether you’re paying your child support, you have the right to parenting time with your children according to the court order. Some people might try to withhold a child based on the claim that child support hasn’t been paid, but custody and visitation rights aren’t contingent upon payment of child support.
Support Obligations for Stepparents and Adoptive Parents
An adoptive parent is legally responsible for child support the same way a biological parent would be, but that isn’t the case for stepparent. In terms of child support, a stepparent’s income isn’t considered when calculating child support.
Speak to an Attorney About Overcoming Common Child Custody Issues in Mesa
When dealing with child custody, there are a variety of potential problems and obstacles that may affect how child custody orders are constructed and the impact they have on parents. For more information about—and assistance dealing with—common issues in Mesa child support cases, get in touch with a knowledgeable lawyer.