With a population of nearly 1.5 million, Phoenix has a diverse array of family structures. Sadly, this means that, inevitably, some Phoenicians will separate or divorce. When a child's parents split up, it's not uncommon for one to pay child support to the other. This is to ensure that the child receives the same financial support they would have whether the child lives with two parents or not. Asking for child support, and understanding your obligations, can be confusing, especially for people who do not have much experience with the court system. We've provided some information about the child support system in Phoenix which lays out the basics of the child support process, your rights and obligations, and how to pay and receive child support.
What Is Child Support?
Child support is a payment made by a noncustodial parent for the costs associated with raising a child. Some of the items those costs cover are education, food, clothing, medical insurance, dental insurance, and transportation.
Who Pays Child Support, and How Much?
Noncustodial parents are typically the ones that must pay child support. This means that if a child lives with only one parent, the parent that the child does not live with typically pays child support. In Phoenix, how much a parent must pay is determined by the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. These guidelines follow the Income Shares Model, which means that the goal is to ensure that a child receives the same financial support he or she would receive if the parents were still together. In a common case, this means that the child's financial support is determined based on the combined income of the parents, and the noncustodial parent pays a percent of that financial support based on the percent contributed to the combined income.
How Do I Ask for Child Support?
A formal request for child support with a court is called a petition. Arizona's Division of Child Support Services may be able to help you with the petition, and you may also seek help from an attorney experienced with child support cases. When speaking with someone about the petition it could be helpful to have any divorce decree, evidence of paternity, and any other court orders associated with custody of the child. The Division of Child Support Services can also help with establishing paternity of a child.
How Do I Receive Child Support in Phoenix?
Phoenix, as well as the rest of Arizona, has two methods for receiving child support payments. The most popular method is for child support payments to be automatically deposited into an account accessed by an Electronic Pay Card, which operates just like a debit card. You may also have the child support payment deposited directly to a personal bank account.
How Do I Pay Child Support?
The most common method for paying child support is a deduction from your paycheck. Once you have received an order to pay child support from a court, the Arizona Division of Child Support Services will contact your employer and instruct them on how to deduct child support payments on your behalf straight from your paycheck. This ensures that you will not forget to make payments, and creates a record of the payment to ensure you get credit for the payment. If you do not receive a paycheck, you may also make child support payments online or through the mail. It is best not to pay a custodial parent directly because that may leave no record of the payment, and you potentially may not receive credit for the payment.
How Do I Change Child Support?
A modification to child support payments may be made whenever there is a substantial change in circumstances. The process for modifying child support is very similar to the process for requesting child support, and will require working with the courts for an updated child support order.
When Do Child Support Payments End?
Child support stops accruing when the child turns 18, or finishes high school (up to age 19). However, a parent may still owe child support payments if there are arrearages (overdue child support payments). An employer will continue to withhold an amount from a parent's paycheck until the balance is paid in full. If a parent does not owe any overdue child support, payments should end automatically.
The child support process can be confusing and frustrating, although it can be a lot smoother if both parents agree to work through the process together. Whether parents agree on child support amounts or not, it may be helpful to have a Phoenix attorney with child support experience to explain the specifics of the law as applied to your case.
Contact a qualified attorney.