Child support issues represent some of the most contentious and complicated that arise in divorce and post-divorce cases. A person in Arizona facing a child support matter needs to have a basic understanding of the law in this area in the state. This content is designed to provide an essential overview of child support law in Arizona. A person with additional questions, of in need of assistance in a child support matter, needs to engage the services of an experienced, skilled child attorney.
Establishing Child Support
The state of Arizona has established child support guidelines. These guidelines set forth the general parameters when it comes to determining child support in a particular case. If parties to a case negotiate child support, they must pay attention to the parameters established by the Arizona child support guidelines.
When a divorce case commences, a motion is filed by the parent with temporary primary custody of a child. Using the child support guidelines, the court will establish the amount of child support that will be paid while a divorce case pends. Ultimately, the court will establish a final child support order in a case.
Amending a Child Support Order
There are limited situations in which a child support order can be amended. Parents can agree to a change a child support order. However, any change must be approved by the court, typically needs to be consistent with the child support guidelines, and must be in the best interests of the child. Even when an agreement is made to alter or amend a child support order, a judge will need to approve the proposed alteration. A court will review whether the proposed change to an existing child support order is in the child’s best interests.
If a change is requested by one party, and not approved by the other, the court will conduct a hearing. There must be a truly compelling reason to warrant a change of an existing child support order. The court will seek to ascertain whether there has been a material change of circumstances that warrants amending an existing child support order.
Enforcing a Child Support Order
Unfortunately, parents with a child support obligation do not always honor their obligation. Because child support is part of a court order, action can be taken against the parent with the child support obligation to enforce the decree in place. Judges take a very dim view on their orders not being followed, particularly child support orders.
A court has a number of available options to force compliance with a child support order. This can include everything from issuing a contempt citation to financially penalizing the obligor to imposing a jail sentence on a person who is significantly in violation of a child support order.
The laws and court procedures associated with child support matters are complicated. Whether a person needs to establish, amend, or enforce a child support order, that individual is best served by retaining the services of an attorney experienced in this area of the law.