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When child support modifications are necessary

Your commitment to your child lasts a lifetime. Despite a divorce that left you and your spouse with separate homes and separate lives, you understand that the devotion to and caring for your child continues. Both you and your former spouse have a stake in child-rearing, and you abide by the divorce agreement that includes fair child support payments.

However, the child support obligation is modifiable under certain circumstances. With the onset of noteworthy life changes – often financial ones, the child support agreement may need to be revisited.

Changes in child’s needs, income boosts

Here is a partial list of some of the events which may support a child support modifications:

  • A significant income boost: A large pay raise for either parent should not go ignored. When this happens through a promotion, new job or side gig, the change in income may result in an increase in the support due to the receiving parent or a decrease in the amount owed by the paying parent.
  • A downturn in income: Just as a pay raise might justify revisiting the child support arrangements, so might a loss in income. In this topsy-turvy economy, many people have lost jobs, and debts mount. When a parent making or receiving child support payments is among the involuntarily unemployed or under-employed, courts may consider revisiting the obligation.
  • Changes in a child’s needs: Expenses associated with children’s needs can vary widely. For example, child care may be a huge expense for a toddler, but that expense might drop off entirely when the child starts school full time. Other expenses, such as health insurance, school tuition or extraordinary costs associated with a special needs child will differ from family to family, but also from one point in a child’s life to another. Changes in these expenses may result in a change in the child support obligation.
  • A permanent disability: This may happen to either a parent or a child. The parent may no longer be able to work, or the child may have additional costs related to his or her care.
  • Parenting time changes: The child support calculation takes into consideration the amount of time the child spends with each parent. Some parents share time equally and others don’t, but if that parenting time arrangement changes, the child support calculation should be reviewed as well.

Child support agreements and the payments that come with them may change when circumstances in each parent’s life change. When these changes surface, it is time to revisit the agreement. The court allows parents a great deal of latitude to reach agreements on the support arrangements that are in their child’s best interests, but in the absence of an agreement, the court will apply the Arizona Child Support Guidelines (A.R.S. §25-320). Contact us to learn more about how these guidelines may affect the calculation of child support in your situation.