Arizona Child Support Guidelines: Adjusting Costs for Parenting Time

The Arizona Child Support Guidelines as adopted by the Arizona Supreme Court utilize an income shares model. Under that model, each parent contributes a proportionate share, based on his or her income, to the total child support amount. The child support guidelines are reviewed every four years. Our current guidelines went into effect on January 1, 2005.

SECTION ELEVEN. Adjustments for Parenting Time Costs

Generally, the noncustodial parent shall have his or her share of the Total Child Support Obligation adjusted, or reduced, to account for parenting time. The more parenting time the mother or father has with the child, the more likely that parent will be spending money on that child. Therefore, fairness requires an adjustment for actual parenting time by the noncustodial parent. For this adjustment, only the time actually spent with the child is included, which eliminates any hours that the child spends in daycare or at school. Step One. The total annual parenting time has to be determined by looking at the parenting plan between the parties, or examining their practice of sharing time. By adding each “block” of parenting time, an expected total for the year can be established. These are the conventions for adding blocks of parenting time for an annual total:

  • Each “block of time” begins when the noncustodial parent receives the child from the custodial parent (or third party), and ends when the noncustodial parent returns the child to the custodial parent (or third party). In other words, the block of time begins and ends with parenting time exchanges.
  • One day is 24 hours within a single block of time. For the remainder hours in that block of time:
    • 12 hours equals one day.
    • 6 to 11 hours equals one half-day.
    • 3 to 5 five hours equals one quarter-day.
    • Less than 3 hours equals one quarter-day if the noncustodial parent typically pays for child-related costs during that time (for example, provides breakfast, lunch, or dinner).

Step Two. The parenting time days are added together for an annual total. That annual total is matched to a predetermined adjustment percentage. You must refer to the “Parenting Time — Table A” to know what the adjustment will be. Table A adjustments range from:

  • 4 – 20 days per year (.012 is 12% — the smallest adjustment from Table A),
  • up to 173 – 182 days per year (.486 is 48.6% — the greatest adjustment from Table A).

Step Three. The Basic Child Support Obligation is multiplied by the adjustment percentage (from Table A). Step Four. The resulting amount from Step Three is subtracted from the noncustodial parent’s proportionate share of the Total Child Support Obligation. If you’re struggling with all these calculations, here’s what you really should remember. The more parenting time days per year, the greater the percentage adjustment, the more money is subtracted from the noncustodial parent’s support share. Before we move on, there is a Parenting Time — Table B, but it is used only in limited circumstances. Table B is applied when the parents share nearly equal time with the child, but don’t share nearly equal child costs. In that situation, upon proof that the cost burden is not shared equally, Table B allows for smaller percentages. When Table B is applied, less money is subtracted from the noncustodial parent’s support share than would be the result under Table A. Here’s an example of the substantially smaller percentages under Table B: 173 – 182 days per year (.331 is 33.1% — the greatest adjustment from Table B).

SECTION TWELVE. When Parents Share Equal Child Custody

There is always the possibility that no child support will be owed by either parent because they have equal time with their child, they pay the child’s expenses equally, and their adjusted gross incomes are equal. In that limited circumstance, they are already paying their proportional share of 50%. However, if their incomes are not equal, then an equalization formula is applied. The result is a payment to the parent with the lesser support obligation. The formula is a simple one

SECTION THIRTEEN. Other Cost Adjustments

If a parent pays a cost under [Section Nine], deduct the cost from that parent’s Proportionate Share of Income to arrive at the Preliminary Child Support Amount.

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