When you experience a change to your income due to demotion, loss of a job, or other financial issues, you may need to seek an amendment to your child support arrangement. Most states require you to undergo a significant change of circumstances to seek an amendment, and Arizona requires solid proof of those changes. Requested changes to parenting time may also require an Arizona amendment to a child support agreement.
If you have experienced changes to your income or desired parenting time and wish to modify your current agreement, discuss your situation with skilled attorneys.
Circumstances can change quickly in our lives, many of which necessitate a child support adjustment. If you currently have a child support agreement with a co-parent, it may become necessary to have that agreement modified to better suit the needs and circumstances of all involved individuals moving forward. For example, if there’s been a significant change in financial status or a relocation becomes necessary, you may be eligible for an adjustment to the current arrangement. A qualified child support attorney can help you make these modifications.
Arizona family court is resistant to making frequent changes to child support agreements. Many are created with inflation and pay increases in mind and are meant to stand the test of time as the child grows. However, there are situations in which amendments to child support are necessary. Updating a child support agreement isn’t impossible, but you do need legal guidance to ensure the best possible outcome.
Situations in which a change may be considered by the court include the following:
A significant change in circumstances that affects one or both parties may qualify for a change in child support. For instance, if over the course of a few years the cost-of-living changes greatly, such as a major rent increase or food prices, then change to child support may become necessary.[fn]Michelmore, M. C. (2021). No Unnecessary Burden: Taxpayers and the Politics of Work, Family, and Welfare. Modern American History, 4(2), 181-200. is another circumstantial change that would influence child support payments.
Another major reason for modifying a child support agreement is a significant change in income. Though this is not always the case, such changes often affect men who are paying child support. Financial information will be collected from both parents after the Request for Modification Review is submitted. In most situations, if there would be a 15% increase or decrease (at least $50) of the current child support order, a change may be appropriate. As child support is heavily based on the income of both parents at the time of filing, it makes sense that as these incomes may fluctuate, so too would child support payments.
Relocation can lead to a substantial financial change and can trigger a need for a change to child support payments. If the move is necessary for various reasons, but ultimately affects the payment a parent can reasonably provide, Arizona courts may consider a change. It is important to note that, depending on the content of the divorce decree or approved parenting plan, a relocation may need to be approved by both parties.
A serious illness deeply impacts the lives of all those affected. For example, if the custodial parent or paying parent experiences a severe illness, their ability to earn and provide for the child may be impacted. If the child experiences a serious illness, they may need more financial support and the child support payment may be eligible for a change.
Child support payments are based on the incomes of both parents, as well as the parenting time experienced by each. The State of Arizona uses a parenting time and child support calculation method that reflects changes in parenting time in the child support payment amount. When parenting time of a non-custodial parent decreases, they may be required to cover more of the child’s expenses. When parenting time increases significantly, it may reduce the amount of the child support payments. Of course, parents with roughly equivalent joint custody agreements may experience a bit of a different situation.
In most cases, determinations are made within 6 months. However, this can change slightly due to the scheduling needs and caseloads experienced by the courts. In addition, it can take time to acquire all the financial information needed to make a new ruling.
There is a timeframe of 20 days to reply to a simplified request for a change in child support. If no response is received by the other parent, the order is immediately enforceable. For a parent living outside of Arizona, the timeframe is 30 days. Child support rulings can also be appealed and taken to a higher court for a new ruling separately from the Child Support Modification process, which will mean additional length added to the timeline.
The new ruling will become applicable on the first day of the month after the notice of the petition for modification. As an example, parent A files for a petition for child support modification on August 12th, and the petition is served to parent B on September 15th. Both parties go to court the following month, on December 8th. When the ruling is made, it becomes retroactively effective starting on October 1st.
It is possible for the parties to reach an agreement outside of a courtroom. If this is the case, an appropriate legal document needs to be drawn up with the terms agreed upon. Then, the judge must approve the agreement.
One important thing to keep in mind is that while you and the other parent may agree upon child support terms, if these terms aren’t signed by a judge, they’re not enforceable. The best way to protect yourself is to secure quality legal representation who can ensure your new terms are clear, concise, and approved by a judge.
While child support typically ends at age 18, this isn’t always the case. If a child is still in high school at 18, child support will continue until that child graduates from high school. Child support will not continue after the age of 19, although any balances that are still owed will have to be paid.
No one expects a sudden life change. When you experience a job loss or are struggling with inflation and need modifications, you need a skilled and compassionate attorney to help you begin the Child Support Modification process in Arizona.
Contact us today for a free consultation.
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