Child Support Modifications in Arizona
Child support can be a very tricky—and emotional—topic for both those who are ordered by a court to pay it as well as for those who are receiving it. Whether you are paying child support or getting it from your prior spouse, it is important to understand the ins and outs of this system with the assistance of an attorney.
At Reppucci & Roeder, we are here to help you navigate this system. In this post, we will briefly discuss one facet of child support, which is the process of modifying child support orders when circumstances change.
What are the basics of child support?
Child support is a system put in place when two people are not married and children are involved. One of the parents is ordered by a court to pay the other parent, in order to provide them with the financial support necessary to raise the child.
The factors that go into determining child support include income (or income potential) and costs (like health insurance or daycare), all of which go into the calculations made to determine who should pay what to whom.
When one of these elements of the calculations change, then the order itself might need to be changed.
For example, say someone’s income has increased dramatically, then this could mean that they might need to pay a different amount than they previously were.
What is child support modification?
When you are ordered to pay your former spouse child support to financially assist in the raising of your child, or are receiving it, the situation could change for either you or your former spouse.
When a the amount of child support that the court ordered can be changed, it is called “modifiable.”
When the situation changes, the amount of financial support might need to shift as well. It could also mean that maybe the other parent will be required to pay. The order could also be terminated, so that no parent needs to keep paying the other.
Formally, this means the child support ordered that is made and entered by the court in your case needs to be modified.
How much does a situation need to change to get a child support modification?
Some examples of situations that may require modifications include:
- one of the parents has another child in a new relationship
- the child who is covered by the child support order is emancipated
- the child no longer needs daycare
- or parenting time has increased or decreased
In these cases, the situation has changed sufficiently that the court order mandating child support could be changed too.
Technically, in Arizona, the changes to the situation must be “substantial and continuing”. This helps to prevent parents from coming in to change the order every time something small shifts, but protects parents who are actually seeing a genuine shift in their or their former partner’s situation.
In other words, the fact that it must be “continuing” captures this part of the situation – the fact that there is an ongoing change, not just a one-off, temporary change. The issue is often determining what is sufficient to mean “continuing”. This will be up to the judge.
If you are kicked out of your apartment, or lose your job, for example, the court will have to decide whether this situation is substantial enough. In addition they will also determine whether it is continuing and ongoing (e.g. will you be able to find a new job or apartment quickly). This is one of the many parts of this process that Reppucci & Roeder can help you with.
The issue of whether something is substantial is also a legally-significant issue to be defined by the court. “Substantial” also means a particular kind of change, one that could result in approximately a 15 percent change in the child support amount.
A real world example could be a big life event—like losing a job—that would change how the child support payments are calculated, because this potentially “substantial” change could mean a big decrease in the amount of income you are bringing in.
So, if the job loss results in around a 15 percent change in the child support calculations, then this means the court could find the change significant enough to merit a modification to the child support order and, thereby, the payments.
Last, when the modification happens, it becomes effective on the first day of the month following the notice of the petition for modification (or termination).
Contact experienced attorneys today
While these situations can become stressful, having experienced and knowledgeable Arizona attorneys to assist you every step of the way is extremely helpful. Reppucci & Roeder are here to help. Call us today at (480) 418-6420 for your free consultation.