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What factors are considered in determining child support?

Many divorcing parents of minor children may wonder about child support in Arizona: how it can be requested, what is the proper amount and for how long it will continue. Usually, child support must be requested by one party during the divorce process. There are forms to complete and submit to the court that trigger the process whereby the court or a county agency will request certain documentation or information from each party. The requested documentation or information includes items such as the income of each parent and whether the parties have other children to support.

The court or county agency will also look to how much time the children will spend living with each parent. Often called "timeshare," this too is usually determined during the divorce process. Generally speaking, if the children live with one party more often than the other, that parent is referred to as the custodial parent and could receive the child support from the non-custodial parent. However, depending upon each parents' financial resources, the both parents might be obligated to pay some money in support.

In making the calculation determination, factors other than the parents' income are also considered, such as the financial needs of the children, the standard of living the children would have if not for the divorce, any medical needs and the children's' educational needs. While usually child support is ordered only for children under the age of 18, this is not always the case. For example, support may be ordered for children with disabilities or if it is determined to be in the children's best interest.

Lastly, it is important to note that support orders can change. The initial orders are based on circumstances as they are at the time, but those circumstances rarely remain static. The needs of the children change, parent's resources and income changes and the time spent with each parent may change. As such, one parent may request the ordered amount increased or decreased, or the duration changed. Each situation is unique and must be reviewed carefully; an Arizona attorney with family law experience can provide assistance.

Source: Arizona state statute, accessed August 8, 2014

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