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Must a court always follow the Arizona Guidelines strictly?

On Behalf of | Feb 16, 2018 | Child Support

As this blog has discussed previously, Arizona parents have their child support orders calculated according to Arizona’s Child Support Guidelines. Some Phoenix residents might wonder, however, whether there are any cases in which a court might decide to order child support of a higher or lower amount, despite what the guidelines say.

There are most certainly special family situations in which a child will require some additional support, such as in a case where they are dealing with an illness or disability. In these and similar situations, a judge can deviate from the support guidelines to make sure a child has what he or she needs, but the judge must consider the appropriate factors as required by Arizona law.

Basically, the court must first find that it is in the best interests of the child to deviate from the amount of child support required under the Guidelines. More importantly, though, the court actually has to show how it determined, based on the evidence, that strictly following the Guidelines in the present circumstances would lead to an unfair result.

Likewise, parents are free to agree to a set amount of child support or, at least in theory, to no child support. However, the court must still independently conclude deviation is warranted. Additionally, the court will only accept a written agreement or one agreed to in the presence of the judge.

Finally, the court has to make sure that both parents know how much support they could have claimed had they not agreed to a different amount.

While getting the court to order support outside the Guidelines amount is possible, it can be an uphill battle that may be best fought with the help of an experienced family law attorney in the Phoenix area.