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Phoenix Divorce Law Blog

Don't navigate the child support process alone

Handling all of the challenges a divorce brings with it is undeniably draining. Many of these elements, however, are necessary not only for the continued well-being of you and your ex-spouse, but any children involved as well. Child support is one such element. While providing for your children is something you're obviously dedicated to, understanding the nuances of child support payments can be difficult. Thankfully, you don't have to navigate the process alone.

At John Bednarz, P.C., you can expect to find empathetic and passionate representation in these matters. We understand the uncertainty divorce and child support payments can inject into your life and how those feelings can become complicated by your desire to provide for your children while also maintaining good financial health. Whether you're entering into child support payments for the first time or have been paying for quite some time and need a change, the good news is that these matters are fairly flexible in comparison to other legal situations.

When is paternity presumed in Arizona?

Paternity can be a complicated matter, rife with contentiousness. There are multiple factors that affect the mother, the presumed father and the child. It is imperative that the parents understand what the law says about presumption of paternity and how to address any issues that arise with a case from the perspectives of everyone involved.

There will be a presumption of paternity, if the man and the mother were married at any juncture in the 10 months that immediately precede the child's birth, or if the child is born within 10 months of the end of the marriage, whether it is through divorce, legal separation, invalidation, annulment and death. If genetic testing is done, and it shows a minimum of 95 percent probability of paternity, the man will be presumed to be the biological father.

Failure to pay child support and license suspensions

Arizona will take steps to punish a parent who is obligated to pay child support to a custodial parent and fails to do so. One method that the state will use to try to get the payments or to assess penalties is license suspension.

If the person has failed to pay child support and is a minimum of six months behind in the payments, the court has options. These include moving a driver's license or recreational license suspension by sending a certificate of noncompliance to the relevant agency, or inform the department of transportation that the noncommercial driver's license be restricted by sending a certificate of noncompliance.

A lawyer can assist with a state paternity suit in Arizona

When there is a paternity issue, it can be a worrisome and problematic issue to overcome. This is something that often arises with unmarried people who are either unsure as to the paternity or are embroiled in a dispute. It is easy to forget the children when the parents disagree about major issues such as paternity, but a main factor in these cases is the best interests of the child. Having legal assistance is vital not just to satisfy the parents or possible parents, but for the child as well.

There are generally two different ways in which paternity cases will arise. First, the state might bring action to recover costs accrued from public assistance and to get child support from the unmarried father. Second, a parent might begin an action to establish child support and to give the legal father his legal decision-making and parenting time rights.  Either party can file to establish paternity, legal decision-making, parenting time and child support.

Getting a court order for visitation in Arizona

Parenting time is one of the biggest issues that arises for couples no longer in a relationship. There are multiple facets to this issue and all must receive the proper attention from both parents. Visitation rights, legal custody and other matters must be decided for the best interests of the child. One issue that often comes up is how a parent receives a legal order to grant parenting time.

The court can grant parenting time. In general, parenting time will be decided at the time the parents legally separate or end the marriage. It can also be done when the parents are requesting a decision. There can also be an order for parenting time, if a parent begins a case to determine paternity -- and even maternity -- of a child or after there has been a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity.

How does unemployment affect child support income determination?

When the determination of gross income is made for a Arizona child support case, there are numerous factors that are taken into consideration. In some instances, a parent is unemployed or earning less than what would be considered, "full earning capacity." This will affect the entire case and how it is handled. Understanding this is a key to a case.

Parents who are unemployed or working below full income capacity will result in the court considering the reasons. It is possible that this is a matter of choice, and there is no reasonable cause associated with it.

Community property and property division: What should I know?

An Arizona couple that has decided to end a marriage and move forward with a divorce will have many issues to sort out. One that is often contentious is property division. This is true whether it is an affluent couple or one of more modest means. Having an understanding as to how state law views property and which party has a right to it is one of the key factors in a case.

In Arizona, there is a community property law when it comes to dividing marital property. This means that, in general, the spouses will share ownership of anything that they acquired, bought or paid for while they were married. This is independent of which party uses it, who paid for it at the time, or in whose name it is. Community property can be furniture, bank accounts, investment accounts, a vehicle, and certain retirement plans. Any property that the spouses acquire while they are married will likely be community property. However, there are exceptions.

What if a visitation court order is disobeyed in Arizona?

When an Arizona couple is no longer together and shares a child, barring unusual circumstances, there will be visitation rights for the noncustodial parent. This is also referred to as parenting time. The court will issue a visitation order based on numerous factors. The best interests of the child are the most important issue. It is beneficial, if the parents can come to the agreement on their own, but if they cannot, the court will intervene. In some instances, a dispute leads to a parent disobeying the court order. And, knowing what to do in such a circumstance is important.

Either parent can violate a visitation order. Nonetheless, neither parent can take matters into his or her own hands and retaliate by denying visitation, stopping support or committing some other act that violates the law and the terms of the agreement. This generally causes the situation to escalate and makes it worse.

How long does child support last in Arizona?

In most cases, Arizona parents who are ending their relationship and share a child will certainly want to adhere to the best interests of the child and have a child support agreement in place. However, there is often a question as to how long the child support guidelines dictate that the supporting parent make payments. Child support does not go on forever and the parents must know when the payments will end.

When the initial order or the modified order is made, the court establishes an end date for the payments. There is a presumptive date of termination on the last day of the month in which the youngest child in the order turns 18. This will be true unless the child will not have graduated high school by that date. If that is the case, the termination date will be the final day of the month in which the child is anticipated to graduate from high school or when he or she turns 18, whichever comes last. This date will be on the administrative income withholding order. Depending on the individual situation, this date can be changed.

Important points about modifying child support in Arizona

When an Arizona couple parts ways but shares a child, the best interests of the child take on a high level of importance when it comes to child support. However, there are times when there is a child support order and one of the parents wants it to be modified. There can be many reasons for this, but it is important to understand when and how this can be done.

Of course, the child's financial needs take precedence, but the situation might be such that either the custodial parent or the supporting parent would like to alter the agreement. The Arizona Division of Child Support Services can help with getting a review to have the agreement modified if the requirements are met. The income of the parents, the child support guidelines and a continuing and substantial situation that is continuing and would change the order by 15 percent or more are all taken into consideration.