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What to do when a parent is unemployed and owes child support

As previous posts here have discussed, it can be frustrating when a parent in Phoenix who is taking care of children full-time is not getting adequate help in the form of financial support from the other parent. While it's bad enough to need to enforce a child support order, it is especially frustrating when the other parent is claiming to not have any source of income and thus cannot pay a high amount of child support. This can leave a parent unable to provide for the financial needs of the children, yet also unable to pursue legal remedies.

In these sorts of situations, a parent may have options under Arizona's Child Support Guidelines. For one, under the Guidelines, a court is generally going to assume that the parent who is paying child support is at least making minimum wage and thus can and should pay something toward child support. Moreover, a court will also treat certain benefits a parent receives, like regular help from relatives, as income for child support purposes.

Finally, the court can determine that a parent who is not working or who seems to be underemployed is doing so without a good reason, for instance, simply to avoid paying additional support, then the court can treat that parent as if he is making what he could earn based on his education and experience rather than what he actually is earning.

Even if there are good reasons why someone is not making the income she could, the court can still consider earning capacity after balancing the reasonableness of the parent's decision against the best interests of the child.

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