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FAMILY LAW FAQ

Child Support

How does the court determine child support?  •  How do I modify a child support order?  •   What happens if my spouse doesn't pay his or her court-ordered child support?

1. How does the court determine child support?

Child support will be ordered based on the parents’ proportionate income. The Arizona Child Support Guidelines outline the following variables that are used to calculate child support:

  • Each parent’s monthly gross income

  • Cost of supporting children not common to the parties

  • Spousal maintenance paid or received

  • Cost of child care and medical insurance for the children

  • Parenting time schedule

  • Age(s) of child(ren)

2. How do I modify a child support order?

Child support can be modified whenever there is a “substantial and continuing” change in circumstances regarding any of the factors used to calculate child support. For instance, changes in income, spousal maintenance, health insurance coverage, age of the child(ren), or parenting time may warrant a modification of child support.

There is a simplified procedure to modify child support through the Family Court Conference Center. After a petition to modify is filed, you and the other parent will attend a one-hour conference with a conference officer to try to reach an agreement, which will become a court order that same day. If you cannot reach an agreement, you will appear at an evidentiary hearing immediately following the one-hour conference. The evidentiary hearing is limited to 45 minutes; the Petitioner will need to present evidence to show that a substantial and continuing change in circumstances has occurred. The judicial offer will enter a child support order that same day.

3. What happens if my spouse doesn't pay his or her court-ordered child support?

Child support most likely will be deducted from your spouse’s pay check. If your spouse is self-employed, the court may order that he or she make payments directly to the Arizona Support Payment Clearinghouse rather than through an Income Withholding Order. If your spouse becomes delinquent on his her child support payments, you may seek a judgment for arrearages (past due support payments) or, if you can show that your spouse knowingly and willingly refused to make the payments, you may file a contempt action in court. The court may impose penalties on the non-paying spouse, such as garnishing the spouse’s wages and bank accounts, attaching liens on property or seizing assets, suspending a professional license or ordering that the spouse serve jail time.