My husband just recently went to court to increase the child support order for his daughters mother as she wasn’t paying the 30% she was supposed to. Her mother had a second child 9 months ago, so according to the calculator that gives her a $303 deduction that makes her calculator come to $0. At mediation, the mediator confused my husband and convinced him her child support would be zero, even though this deduction is discretionary and not mandatory. Her mother ended with a $0 child support order and also is being allowed to claim her 50% of the years for taxes while my husband has Full financial responsibility of his daughter, and also has full custody of his daughter so she lives with us full time and only sees her mother 3 nights a month. Is this possible for her child support to be zero simply because she has a second child? Is it possible for her to be allowed to claim her 50% of the years with 0% child support paid?
While unusual that a person would have $0.00 obligation on child support, this result is certainly possible and based upon the Arizona Child Support Guidelines as it states the needs are for the supported child, but this a “worst case” scenario. As noted, the “other child” credit on the child support guidelines is a discretionary credit, both as to application, and to amount. The credit that populates in the support calculator is the maximum credit allowed by law. Generally, the Court will adjust this credit, or not give it at all, if applying the credit resulted in the child support order being $0.00. The Court wants to see all children treated fairly and not be disproportionately burdened by a parent’s low income status. It is also possible that the tax exemption was shared instead of given solely to the Obligee based on an agreement of the parties or by prior court order that was not addressed. Statutorily, the tax exemption is to be split in proportion to financial responsibility, so if you have zero responsibility you should not be entitled to share in the exemption. This provision is modifiable however upon agreement of the parties. It sounds like the parties in this case met with a conference officer who worked out a stipulation between the parties. Unfortunately these conference officers are not attorneys and have very little, if any, legal training and because of this often negotiate agreements that do not follow the letter of the law. Depending on when the order was entered, you may be able to file to have a new trial held on those issues that the conference officer portrayed as the law that were misstated or misconstrued.