The court shall order the noncustodial parent to pay child support in an amount equal to his or her proportionate share of the Total Child Support Obligation. The custodial parent shall be presumed to spend his or her share directly on the children.”
After the court has determined its child support order, it conducts the Self Support Reserve Test. This is a financial feasibility test intended to verify the noncustodial parent’s ability to pay the ordered child support, and enjoy at least a minimum standard of living while doing so.
First, the Self Support Reserve Amount of $775 is deducted from the noncustodial parent’s Adjusted Gross Income.
Second, at the court’s discretion, actual payments made by the noncustodial parent for court-ordered arrearages of child support from another relationship and spousal maintenance may also be deducted from the noncustodial parent’s Adjusted Gross Income.
If the Self Support Reserve Test results in an Adjusted Gross Income that is less than the child support order, then the court may reduce the child support amount. Before it will do so, however, the court considers the impact of such a reduction on the custodial parent’s financial resources.
When both parents have primary physical custody of different children from their relationship, the guidelines require an adjustment in support obligations. Perhaps the mother has primary physical custody of the two youngest children, for example, while the father has primary physical custody of the oldest child. As you would expect, the greater support obligation is reduced “by the amount of child support owed to that parent by the other parent.”
If child support has been assigned to the state under A.R.S. § 46-407, the obligation for a parent to pay child support shall not be offset by child support arrearages that may be owed to that parent. Under our welfare statutes, when a child covered by a support order is placed into foster care, the state is assigned the right to receive those support payments. A.R.S. § 46-407 provides in pertinent part that:
Sometimes parenting time requires travel, and travel expenses can add up quickly. The court may choose to allocate travel expenses in its support order when a parent travels over 100 miles in one direction. A travel expense allocation is essentially a required reimbursement for out-of-pocket costs, which doesn’t change the amount of child support ordered. In considering travel expense allocation, the court will take into consideration the importance of the child’s “continued contact with each parent.
Keep in mind that child support is always paid in the form of money. Payments in kind, or things other than money, are not permitted as a substitute for support dollars. For example, buying a child a complete school wardrobe is a gift and is not “support” — the cost of the clothing cannot be deducted from the support amount owed by the parent who purchases the wardrobe.
There are times when the court believes it must deviate from the amount calculated under the guidelines. These deviations, which may increase or decrease the amount of support ordered, are permitted as follows:
There are also times when the court has discretion to deviate from the results under the guidelines, as when the parents enter into a written agreement. Such agreements may adjust the parents’ respective support obligations.
In a situation where the child is living with an authorized non-parent caregiver, then the support payments will be made by each parent to that third-party caregiver. That caregiver could be a grandparent, for example, who has custody of the child, or perhaps a government agency when the child is in foster care.
In its order, the court must include the exact amount of child support and the date it is to start. The court has to make specific findings for the official record. These findings include the following:
As part of the support order, the court will require that the parents exchange “tax returns, financial affidavits, and earning statements” with each other every 24 months, along with their current residential addresses and their current employers’ names and addresses.