For parents going through a divorce or parents looking to revise their parenting time and/or child support plan, determining which parent pays for what can be complicated. There have also been recent changes to the Arizona child support calculator in 2018. Here’s what you need to know.
Disclaimer: Please note that this article is not intended to be legal advice. You should always talk with an experienced family law attorney about your unique situation.
How did the Arizona child support calculator change in 2018?
At ARTEMiS Law Firm, we know how hard divorce can be, so we’re committed to helping you and your family with transparent, honest communication from the beginning, and compassionate support for parents and their children. Part of that is knowing what exactly you should expect when it comes to child support.
Although both parents are responsible for the financial support of their children, there are mitigating factors when it comes to how much each parent pays. Arizona’s laws provide clear guidelines for determining child support. The goals of these guidelines are simple.
They are to:
1. Provide guidance in terms of reasonable child support amounts that are in line with both the needs of the child (including those with special needs) and a parent’s ability to pay
2. Standardize and make consistent support orders for parents in similar situations
3. Guide parents and courts in establishing support orders that promote settlements and decrease lawsuits
In 2018, changes to Arizona’s child support calculator and its guidelines have been made to reflect practical and philosophical changes in the state. These 2018 Arizona child support calculator changes include the following.
Increase in the self-support reserve
The self-support reserve is intended to ensure that parents paying child support are able to meet their own needs for living in addition to their child’s. In 2018, the self-support reserve has increased from $1,115 to $1,456.
This temporary change is effective between April 1, 2018 and December 31, 2018. Future changes may be made, but for now, the increase is limited to the noted eight-month period.
Rounding support payments up or down
Pursuant to Section 14: Determining the Child Support Order in the Child Support Guidelines, child support payments will be rounded up or down to the nearest dollar.
This change simplifies accounting and makes it easier for the parent who is paying.
Change in terminology
Gender-specific language that includes “Mother” and “Father” has been changed to “Petitioner” and “Respondent.” This more inclusive language reflects the changing face of families in the state of Arizona.
Changes to forms
Many forms have been updated in the Arizona child support calculator, including the Parent’s Worksheet for Child Support.
Changes have been made to the mandated Income Withholding Order (IWO). This instructs the paying parent’s employer to withhold child support payments from the paying parent’s wages in order to meet their financial child support obligation.
Scope of Arizona child support calculator changes
To some, these changes may seem minor, but for others, the impact can be critical. Overall, how child support calculation works in Arizona is largely the same. However, recognizing different family configurations, allowing for an increase in the cost of living for the self-support reserve, and rounding payment amounts are a concrete way that the state is trying to simplify and standardize the way that child support is determined.
Petitioners who are not receiving court-ordered child support can also use the revised Income Withholding Order to help them get the assistance they need.
These new changes don’t just affect families currently going through separation and divorce. Families with child support orders already in place may want to revisit their agreements.
An experienced child custody lawyer can review your current child support agreements and provide feedback on your best course of action.
How do I calculate AZ child support?
The first step in establishing appropriate child support is to establish paternity if that has not already been determined. For the Superior Court of Maricopa County, the Judicial Branch of Arizona website has access to the Petition to Establish Paternity, Legal Decision-Making, and Child Support and other family law matter forms.
Once paternity is established, you will need to file a Petition to Establish Child Support; this is usually filed with a Petition for Parenting Time and Legal Decision-Making.
The 2018 Arizona child support calculator on the Arizona Judicial Branch website can then help determine what costs might be assessed for each parent using the following criteria:
– The gross income of both parents
– Court-ordered child support for other children
– Medical, dental, and vision insurance costs for the child/children subject to the Order
– Extra education expenses paid
– Parenting time days per year
– Any additional factors, such as court-ordered arrears paid by the noncustodial parent or other extraordinary expenses
You can plug these numbers into Arizona’s interactive child support calculator to get an idea of the financial obligation you might face. However, using the monthly child support calculator is not the same as getting a final ruling from the court. For exact numbers and assistance, talking to a lawyer with experience in family law is important.
Where can I get help?
Families going through divorce need compassionate counsel and advice when it comes to meeting their children’s needs. Situations can become complicated quickly, leading to protracted conflict.
ARTEMiS Law Firm is dedicated to helping you and your family during this difficult time. We have advanced experience in helping to resolve disputes as equitably as possible for the parties involved.
If you need more help figuring out Arizona child support laws or guidelines for unmarried, separated, or divorced parents, contact ARTEMiS Law Firm today to discuss your options.