The Arizona Court of Appeals ruled on three main topics (1) child support calculations; (2) the use of social media to disparage another party; and (3) disclosure of materials related to the litigation. ?First, the court held that a family law court cannot limit child support to meet only the child?s minimal needs.? Nash v. Nash, No. 1 CA-CV 12-0039 (Ariz. Ct. App. July 23, 2013).? Instead, the Court can permit that the children ?continue to enjoy the reasonable benefits they had while their parents were married.?? ??In cases dealing with parents of significant wealth, expenses such as travel, entertainment, and other such costs can be taken into consideration when calculating child support.? ??Additionally, if the primary residential parent is able to provide for the children?s needs, it does mean the other parent should not contribute their proportionate share of the Total Child Support Obligation.
Second, the Court ruled that parties, who include language in a custody agreement prohibiting parents from disparaging the other in front of the children, are also barred from ?posting disparaging remarks about each other on social media? because comments made on social media outlets ?are likely to make their way to the children.?
Lastly, the Court affirmed that, although court materials can be sealed or made confidential, it can only be done upon ?a finding that the confidentiality or privacy interests of the parties [or] their minor children?outweighs the public interest in disclosure.?? Ariz. R. Fam. L. P. 13(D).
In the recent ruling of the Arizona Court of Appeals in Nash v. Nash, the Court explains that A.R.S. ? 25-320(A) (West 2013) specifies that a family law court ?may order either or both parents owing a duty of support to a child.?? Nash v. Nash, No. 1 CA-CV 12-0039 (Ariz. Ct. App. July 23, 2013). ??Later, in subpart (D), it instructs the supreme court to ?establish guidelines for determining the amount of child support.?? A.R.S. ? 25-320(D).? These guidelines have become the Arizona Child Support Guidelines, Appendix to A.R.S. ? 25320 (West 2013).? ?The amount resulting from the application of [the] guidelines is the amount of child support ordered unless a written finding is made, based on criteria approved by the supreme court, that application of the guidelines would be inappropriate or unjust in a particular case.? ?A.R.S. ? 25-320(D).?
The Child Support Guidelines set out steps for calculating a child support amount ?consistent with the reasonable needs of children and the ability of parents to pay.?? Guidelines, ? 1.? The Guidelines are built upon two principles of the Income Shares Model:? (1) ?The total child support amount approximates the amount that would have been spend on the children if the parents and children were living together,? and (2) ?Each parent contributes his/her proportionate share of the total child support amount.? , Background.
According to the Arizona Child Support Guidelines ?8, if a parent is seeking higher child support than is presumed under the Guidelines, they ?shall bear the burden of proof to establish that a higher amount is in the best interests of the children.?? Notably, the Guidelines do not specify that the parent has to specify every dollar requested in the deviation.? Instead, in the recent ruling by the Arizona Court of Appeals in Nash v. Nash, the Court stated that ?in asking the court to establish a child-support amount in excess of the amount derived from the Schedule, Mother only had to prove that some upward deviation was in the best interests of the children.?? Nash v. Nash, No. 1 CA-CV 12-0039 (Ariz. Ct. App. July 23, 2013).? Ultimately, the inability to prove the necessity of every dollar requested in the deviation does not mean that parent is ?entitled to no deviation whatsoever.?
Significantly, when the parents possess significant resources, the family court must ?consider the reasonable needs of the children in light of the parents? resources.?? When deciding If an upward deviation in child support is warranted, ?the court must give considerable regard to the reasonable benefits, beyond their ?basic needs,? accorded to the children during the marriage.???? This is in accord with what is stated in the Background of the Guidelines that the ?total child support amount approximates the amount that would have been spent on the children if the parents and children were living together.?? Arizona Child Support Guidelines, Background.
In Nash v. Nash, the Court found that even expenses such as international travel can be considered in calculating child support for children from affluent homes.? Nash v. Nash, No. 1 CA-CV 12-0039 (Ariz. Ct. App. July 23, 2013).? The Court, in citing to Miller v. Schou, 616 So.2d 436, 438-39 (Fla. 1993), stated that ?in such a situation, the court must look beyond the basic necessities of survival because children are entitled to share reasonably in their parents? economic good fortune.? (quotations omitted).?? The Court goes on to explain that ?a child?s share in the good fortune of his or her parents must be subject to the limitation that the award be consistent with an appropriate lifestyle.???? (quotations omitted).
Included in some custody agreements, is language that prohibits the parties from making disparaging comments or anything else that would negatively impact the children?s opinions or respect for the other parent.? In the recent ruling of the Arizona Court of Appeals in Nash v. Nash, where a party tweeted a critical statement about the other, the Court tackled the difficult case of disparaging comments made on social media outlets.? Nash v. Nash, No. 1 CA-CV 12-0039 (Ariz. Ct. App. July 23, 2013).? If too restrictive, the Court?s enforcement of a custody agreement could encroach on 1st Amendment free speech rights.