The legal guidelines for child support in Arizona clearly lay out how child support is determined. Both parents have financial responsibilities for their children, each contributing a set percentage of their income. But what does child support cover in Arizona? Here’s what you should know.
Disclaimer: Please note that this article is not intended to be legal advice. You should always talk to an attorney who is skilled in family law about your unique situation.
What does child support cover in Arizona?
Child support laws and rules can be complicated. Before discussing what is covered, it is important to note that court orders determine how much each parent will pay for certain expenses. The court considers the financial needs of the child balanced with the financial resources of each parent when deciding each parent’s child support obligation (Title 25-320).
Arizona child support laws also define what expenses child support covers in Arizona. This may include the following:
– Health insurance
– Dental and vision insurance
– Daycare and other childcare costs
– Education expenses
– Supplemental education expenses
– Living expenses
Let’s look at each of these in more detail.
Does child support cover medical costs and insurance?
The Arizona Child Support Guidelines explain how child support covers medical expenses and insurance.
Medical costs and insurance, including dental and vision costs and insurance, are a covered expense in child support calculations. Generally, the parent with primary parenting time is responsible for providing health insurance when both parents have access to comparably-priced coverage. However, both parents are responsible for contributing to the premiums and other fees, like co-pays (with a court-determined percentage).
Costs may also come up for medical, dental, vision, and other uninsured medical expenses. The parent who paid for the service must submit a receipt for reimbursement to the other parent within 180 days. The other parent must provide reimbursement of the court-ordered percentage within 45 days per the guidelines.
Is daycare covered in child support?
This complicated question is one of the biggest questions divorcing parents have. Because parents may be eligible for a childcare tax credit, this is factored into the amount of support one parent pays another. This becomes more complicated when lower-income parents do not make enough money to benefit from the tax credit.
Daycare for children who are not school-age is eligible for child support coverage, as are afterschool and summer programs and camps that enable a parent to work. Babysitting for nighttime outings, however, does not qualify as a child support obligation.
Essentially, if the custodial parent needs childcare in order to work, this is considered a covered expense. If summer camp is the only expense, this is divided into 12 payments and factored into the parent’s monthly total.
Does child support cover college and other education expenses?
Because public education is free and readily available all over the United States, private school tuition doesn’t automatically qualify as a child support expense. However, parents may agree to this type of schooling and negotiate their own obligations.
There are some possible exceptions, such as education for children who are gifted and enter college early or children who have a disability that requires special tuition-based schooling.
Other education costs for minor children may qualify as child support expenses. These generally include things like:
– Field trips
– Other required educational expenses
As child support obligations generally terminate at the age of 18 or when a child finishes high school if after age 18 (unless extraordinary circumstances exist), college expenses are not generally covered under child support.
What is covered under living expenses?
Living expenses is a broad category of child support costs that can include many items, such as:
– Extracurricular activities
– Travel related to parenting time
Emergencies may also fall into this category.
What other expenses are covered?
Although child support obligations generally end when a child is 18, there are circumstances when parents will continue to contribute. Arizona law allows for support for children over 18 who have special needs that do not allow them to be self-supporting (Title 25-320). In these cases, child support usually remains the responsibility of each parent in the percentages set forth by the court.
Child support calculations also involve adjustments for parenting time and the age of the child. If a child spends more days with one parent than the other, for example, the amount of child support is adjusted to reflect that.
Additionally, child support amounts are not set in stone. The state of Arizona recognizes that costs associated with older children are generally higher than for young children. Because of this, the guidelines state that children over 12 receive 10% over the basic support obligation.
Child support amounts can also change due to changes in income. Per Title 25-503, a parent who can demonstrate “a showing of changed circumstance that is substantial and continuing” can file for a modification of support. Parents cannot leave a higher-paying job to lower their required amount of child support on purpose, though. This modification only applies to situations where disability, termination from employment, significant pay decrease and increase, and changes in health insurance significantly change a parent’s ability to meet their current obligation.
Get help with your child support calculations
One of the most challenging aspects of child support is knowing how much to expect. Arizona child support guidelines in 2018 include some changes from previous years, such as different income limits. An online child support calculator can help you get an idea of what you might expect to pay (or what you might receive).
An online calculator is a good place to start, but chances are you will need more support to determine what does child support cover in Arizona, including understanding the basics of Arizona child custody.
ARTEMiS Law Firm are Scottsdale child support lawyers who can help you with any issues surrounding child support. Get in touch today.Contact Us