Determining child support is a complex process that some divorcees struggle with. The Child Support Enforcement Agency, or CSEA, has established federal guidelines regarding how much parents must pay, but every case is slightly different. Those who live in Arizona also need to take state laws and regulations into consideration. Here is a closer look at how child support is determined and what steps parents must take when going through this process.
If parentage is contested or either party has doubts, then the parents can have the CSEA conduct a DNA test. The DNA test must come back with a 99 percent probability of fatherhood in order for the state to recognize paternity. Once that has been established, parents must then verify their incomes by supplying the court with their most recent tax returns. In addition to personal earnings, parents also need to reveal other sources of income such as retirement benefits, disability payments, workers' compensation payments, trust funds, sick pay and insurance proceeds.
Those who fail to pay child support will be held in contempt of court, and the penalties are often extensive. The judge can revoke professional licenses, withhold paychecks and fine the offending party. In severe cases, parents have been imprisoned for failing to pay child support. According to federal law, an individual can be imprisoned for up to six months and forced to pay the unpaid child support upon their release.
Parents who are going through a divorce may consider speaking with an attorney who has experience dealing with child support cases. Parents can keep these cases out of the courts by coming up with a private child support agreement. Before agreeing to any amount, parents might first consult with an attorney so that they understand all of their rights and responsibilities in the coming years.