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Child support orders and modifications in Arizona

Arizona parents going through the divorce process may be interested in hearing about an unusual twist concerning child support payments. A couple in Iowa were divorced in 2004 and for years afterward, they fought over the terms of their divorce settlement and custody of their children. In 2011, the ex-wife was convicted of first-degree murder and incarcerated. Despite her conviction and loss of custody of her children, a judge ruled that her ex-husband had to pay her back child support and divorce settlement payments.

Earlier this year, the Sac County Attorney's Office petitioned the Court to garnish the child support payments being received by the woman. The Office asked that some of the money go towards the amount the ex-wife owes in restitution to her victim's family. The ex-wife's attorney argued that the money should instead go to family members who have helped financially support the children. In the end, the judge directed the payments to the victim's family, noting that the ex-wife does not need any financial support, as she is incarcerated and no longer has custody of the children.

While this is an unusual case, which parent has custody of the children is an often-used fact upon which a judge will allocate child support. If the parents have joint custody, that factor will be considered, as well. Other considerations include the financial means of each parent, the financial needs of the children, medical needs the children may have and schooling and extracurricular expenses. When a child support order is made, it is based on a snapshot in time, on the circumstances of each parent and the children at the time the order is determined.

Nonetheless, circumstances change over time. The needs of the children change and one or both parents may remarry and bring other children into the households. One parent may lose a job or gain a much higher-paying position. In these circumstances, it may be appropriate to ask the Court to modify the original order. Either party can ask for the order to be adjusted downward or upward, depending on the situation. Many factors are often at play in original and modified child support orders; an Arizona attorney with family law experience can provide assistance.

Source: The Des Moines Register, "Child support ordered to go to restitution," Ryan J. Foley, June 10, 2014

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