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When a couple with one or more minor children divorces, a child support order is part of their divorce. The couple’s grounds for filing divorce does not matter, nor do any other issues unrelated to their children. Every minor child has the right to be financially supported by both of his or her parents, and a child support order ensures that a child receives the support he or she needs.

How Are Arizona Child Support Orders Calculated?

When the court determines a child custody order, it has the discretion to determine an appropriate setup based on various factors about the child’s needs and the parents’ lifestyles. This is not the case when calculating child support orders. Determining an appropriate child support amount is a much more mathematical, straightforward process that involves figures like each parent’s gross monthly income, the amount of time the children spend with each parent, each parent’s other financial obligations like spousal support, and the children’s ages.

What Would you and your Spouse Spend on your Children if you Stayed Married?

Basically, the court uses the factors listed above to determine what you and your spouse would have spent on your children monthly if you had remained married. The purpose of a child support order is to avoid subjecting the child to a reduced standard of living because of his or her parents’ divorce.

The court’s first step in developing a child support order is determining each parent’s proportionate share of the couple’s total child support obligation. For example, if one parent earns $30,000 per year and the other earns $50,000 per year, the higher-earning parent is responsible for 60 percent of the total child support obligation. The next step is adjusting this figure to provide appropriate support according to the couple’s custody order according to Arizona’s child support guidelines. A parent’s obligation must be adjusted according to his or her share of parenting time, so a parent’s final monthly obligation might not be his or her percentage of the child’s monthly support needs.

What Special Circumstances can Impact your Child Support Order?

Although most child support orders are made according to the state’s formula, the court may deviate from this formula when special circumstances apply to a case. One circumstance that can alter a child support order is a child’s special needs, requiring the parents to pay more for medical care or academic support. Another is a parent’s self-employment, which may result in the court requiring a few months’ worth of support to be paid at a time.

Can You Calculate your Child Support Order Yourself?

When you search online, you will find many calculators you can use to estimate your child support obligation. These can be handy tools to ballpark the amount you will likely have to pay, but do not take a calculator’s readout as your exact child support obligation. The court will determine your child support order, which can be higher or lower than the amount you calculate online.

Work with an Experienced Mesa Family Lawyer

For quality legal guidance when you are working through a divorce or working out your child support order, work with our team of experienced family lawyers at Edwards & Petersen, PLC. Contact our office today to set up your initial consultation with us.

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