How does Arizona calculate child support?

On Behalf of | May 29, 2020 | Family Law

Arizona follows the income shares model for child support, using guidelines created by the Child Support Guidelines Project of the National Center for State Courts. With this model, the state adds both parents’ incomes and adjusts for some expenses to determine a fair arrangement. 

The income shares model in Arizona explains what to expect from an upcoming child support determination. 

Adjusted gross income 

The state reviews the gross income of both parents, which includes: 

  • Wages and salary 
  • Commission and bonuses 
  • Severance pay 
  • Stock dividends 
  • Pension or retirement funds 
  • Investment interest 
  • Social Security benefits 
  • Capital gains 
  • Unemployment, workers’ compensation and disability insurance benefits 
  • Spousal support 

Each parent’s gross income receives the following deductions where applicable: 

  • Court-ordered spousal maintenance payments  
  • Child support paid for children from other relationships 
  • Deduction for children from other relationships for which he or she is the primary residential parent 

The resulting number is the parent’s adjusted gross income. When added, these numbers make up the family’s combined adjusted gross income. 

Basic child support obligations 

The court will compare the CAGI to the state’s Basic Child Support Obligation Chart. For example, if the CAGI is $4,000 a month, the BCSO is $765 for one child and $1,108 for two children. However, these numbers also receive adjustment as follows: 

  • Addition of the child’s medical, dental and vision costs 
  • Addition of child care costs 
  • Addition of education expenses 
  • Addition of expenses for children who have special needs 
  • Addition of up to 10% of the BCSO for each child age 12 or older 

When the court arrives at the adjusted child support obligation, the judge will divide the amount proportionally depending on what each parent earns. In the example above, if one parent earns $1,000 a month and the other $3,000 a month, and the lower-earning parent has primary custody, the higher-earning parent will pay approximately 75% of the adjusted BCSO in child support. The court will also make adjustments for shared parenting time.