Some people assume that the parent who doesn’t get primary custody of their child will be the one paying child support. This isn’t necessarily true. In Arizona, child custody is only one of the many factors that the court considers when determining child support. Just because one parent gets primary custody doesn’t mean they’ll receive child support, and likewise, just because the parents get 50-50 custody doesn’t mean child support is canceled out.
Do You Have to Pay Child Support If You Have Equal Custody?
In Arizona, you may or may have to pay child support even if you have equal custody of your child. The state follows the Income Shares Model, which means child support is a proportionate share that each parent must shoulder, based largely on their income and expenses.
Arizona acknowledges that child custody, also called parenting time in this context, affects the costs shouldered by each parent. Thus, the state’s child support calculation includes an adjustment or deduction for how much parenting time each parent has with the child.
If you and the other parent have 50-50 joint custody (equal parenting time) plus similar incomes, it’s likely that your proportionate shares of child support are equal as well. In this case, the court may decide not to order the support. However, if you have equal custody but your incomes are significantly different, that will also make a difference in the calculated support amount. The parent with higher income will likely be ordered to pay child support to the lower-earning parent.
To understand this better, it helps to know how child support is calculated in Arizona. Below is an overview of AZ child support computation.
How Child Support is Calculated in Arizona: An Overview
These are the basic steps that the court follows to determine the final child support obligation of each parent:
- Calculate the gross income of each parent and deduct any income adjustments allowed by the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. One of the allowed adjustments is for parents who have child custody.
- Combine the parents’ adjusted incomes, and look up the total amount on the Arizona Schedule of Basic Support Obligations. The schedule provides the “basic” child support amount that both parents have to maintain together. This is not the final support amount.
- Add any additional child-related expenses to the basic support amount. These expenses may include medical insurance, childcare costs, and the like.
- Take the adjusted basic child support and divide it proportionately between the two parents. To do this, calculate what percentage of the combined adjusted income each parent contributes. For example, if the combined adjusted income is $5,000, of which $3,000 comes from John, John’s percentage of the income is 60 percent.
This same percentage is the parent’s share of child support obligation. If, for example, the basic child support is $1,332, John’s 60 percent share will be $799.20.
- Now that each parent has a proportionate share of child support, each share can be adjusted according to how much parenting time the parent gets. To do this, add up the number of parenting time days that the parent gets in a year. Look up this number in the AZ Parenting Time Table. This table gives the adjustment percentage that must be deducted from the parent’s share of child support.
Continuing our example above, John has a child support share of $799.20 and gets 40 parenting time days in a year. According to the Parenting Time Table, he gets an adjustment percentage of 0.050, which in this case is $250. This $250 is subtracted from John’s share of $799.20, resulting in a reduced share of $549.20.
If both parents have equal parenting time days, they’ll subtract the same percentage from their respective child support shares.
- If the court has no more adjustments to make, it will order the resulting amount from this calculation as the final child support obligation.
Understanding child support in relation to child custody can quickly get confusing. If you have concerns about your support obligation while having joint custody, it’s wise to consult a reliable child support attorney for legal advice suited to your case.
Call a Child Support Lawyer in Arizona
The attorneys at Goldman Law are top-rated in the field of Family Law and Divorce because of their skilled handling of cases like child support and child custody. With over 25 years of combined experience, our lawyers are deeply familiar with child support determination and how to safeguard our client’s rights in the process.
Talk to us about your child support concern. Call us at (602) 698-5520 for a consultation.