Frequently Asked Questions About Child Support

Cindy Best

Agreements on child support: Can my spouse and I agree on a child support amount that is different from the statutory calculation?

The Court can permit the parties to settle on an amount of child support that is different from the statutory calculation. In order to do so, however, both parties must sign a statement indicating that they are aware of what the child support would have been had they not entered into the agreement. You must attach a Child Support Worksheet to your decree.

Income tax exemptions: Who gets the income tax exemptions for the children?

The federal and state income taxes exemptions for the children are also generally divided in proportion to the parties’ incomes. In order for the paying parent to claim the children during his/her year, the parent must be current in his/her child support obligation for that year. This is determined by statute, but may be modified by agreement of both parties.

Parenting time: What if my spouse does not allow me to see my children. Do I still need to pay child support?

Yes, you still have an obligation to pay child support. You have an obligation to continue to pay child support until a court orders that you may stop. It is common for parents to want to withhold child support if the other spouse is not abiding by the court-ordered parenting time, but courts frown upon either party not following the court?s orders.

When does my child support obligation end?

Child support orders apply to any child under the age of 18, or a child who is still attending high school or an equivalency program. Also, if a child is mentally or physically handicapped, the judge may order that support payments continue indefinitely, past the age of majority (18).

Out-of-state child support order: Can I enforce an out-of-state child support order in Arizona?

Yes, you can enforce the out-of-state child support order. It will be necessary for you to register the out-of-state child support order with the Arizona courts, so that Arizona has jurisdiction and you have an Arizona case number. To ?register? your case means that you will need a certified copy of your domestic relations file from the other state and file it with the Arizona courts.

Do I have to pay child support if I do not have a job or lose my job?

Yes, you are under a court order to continue to pay child support. If the unfortunate circumstance occurs and a parent does not have employment, it may be necessary for that parent to request that the court modify the child support obligation to reflect the current situation.

What can I do if the obligated parent does not pay child support?

If an obligated parent does not pay child support, you may file a Petition to Enforce Child Support, Child Support Arrears and Medical Expense Reimbursement. Often, all three of those issues go together. It makes sense to include those three issues in one petition, because if the obligated parent is not paying child support, you will want to ask the court to enforce the child support order in effect. You will also want the obligated parent to pay for the months he/she did not pay, along with any medical expenses he/she did not pay. Also be advised that it is appropriate in that petition to ask for the obligated parent to pay your attorney?s fees if you hire an attorney for this issue.

Can child support be modified?

Child support is modifiable if there is a change in circumstances that would result in a 15 percent change in the support amount; moreover, the support terminates upon the emancipation of the child. In Arizona, emancipation occurs at age 18 or high school graduation, whichever occurs later, but not later than age 19.

What about other child expenses that are not included in the child support worksheet?

One parent will be required to maintain health insurance for the children, and if there are any medical/dental/vision/orthodontia expenses not covered by insurance, the parties will often divide those expenses in proportion to their incomes.

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