When the Arizona court enters a child support award, the judge determines the amount of child support based on the economic circumstances of the parents at the time of the order. However, as the saying goes, the only constant in life is change. As time passes many parents need the court to review the amount of child support they pay or receive and adjust it because their circumstances have changed since the initial order.
Child Support Modification
A child support modification is a formal request to the court to alter the amount of money that a parent pays or receives in child support. While parents may have informal agreements between themselves to alter the amount of the child support payments, only the court can change the amount officially.
Either one of the parents can petition the court for a child support modification.
Standard for Seeking Modification
In order for the court to modify child support, it needs to find that there has been a change in circumstances that is “substantial and continuing” which would change the child support amount by 15 percent or more. Some of the events that the court considers substantial and continuing include:
- An increase or decrease in either parent’s wages
- Change in child custody
- Change to health insurance
- Either parent’s obligation to support additional children
- Unanticipated medical or educational expenses
- Extra expenses for caring for special-needs children
- Increase in child care costs
Even if a parent obtains a child support modification, he or she still needs to pay any unpaid child support that has accrued. A modification cannot eliminate unpaid back support a parent owes.
Consult an Attorney
Child support calculations can be confusing, and trying to figure out child support obligations without help can be a daunting task. If you have a child support order and need to adjust it because your financial situation has changed since the court issued the order, talk to a seasoned family law attorney who can discuss your situation with you and advise you of your options.