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Reaching an agreement on child support in an Arizona divorce

Arizona residents know that divorces can be contentious. Emotions often run high in the face of a life-changing event. This is particularly true when children are involved. However, divorcing parents will need to work together to raise their children, and before that can happen an agreement must be reached. All divorces involving minor children will include some type of agreement regarding the children. Many times, a financial child support arrangement is one such agreement. But how can an agreement be reached? There are three primary methods: informally, through the courts or through mediation.

The informal process involves the divorcing parents themselves sitting down to work out the details. This may only work well for those parties proceeding through an amicable divorce, where discussions can be entered into thoughtfully and reasonably. Items the parties will need to decide include payment amounts and the duration of the payments. Payments are oftentimes made until the children reach maturity, although the parties can agree differently.

An agreement can also be reached with the help of a negotiator or mediator; an independent third party who sits down with the parents to help them reach an agreement. This person might be an attorney or a counselor. Sometimes, courts offer the assistance of a mediator for a fee. Other times, the parties themselves find and hire a mediator. One advantage a mediator can offer is specialized knowledge of child support issues, which can help guide discussions.

Lastly, if the parties are unable to work out the support agreement on their own or with a mediator, the courts will decide. Each party will put forth his or her own wishes and the court will look to factors such as the income of each spouse and the financial needs of the children to make a decision. In doing so, the courts use child support guidelines as a tool to help decide the final arraignments. And, in all cases, the best interests of the children are paramount.

Source: Findlaw.com, "Child support by agreement," Accessed Aug. 1, 2014

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