Parents in Arizona and throughout the country are generally required to provide for a minor child's financial needs. In some cases, this obligation continues until a child graduates from college. Child support amounts are calculated based on a number of factors such as a parent's income, how custody is allocated and state guidelines. Typically, judges can use any factor that may be deemed relevant in a case to ensure that a child support order protects a child's best interest.
Arizona residents who are fans of former NFL player Michael Strahan may be aware that he was married from 1999 to 2006. He and his ex-wife have twin daughters who are now 14, and at the time, they worked out an amicable agreement for child custody and support. However, his ex-wife is now asking for back child support of $321,654 plus $225,000 for half the cost of their daughters' horseback riding lessons.
Generally, a child support payment is based on how much a noncustodial parent earns. The goal when crafting a child support order is to ensure that the child's needs are met. However, if parents in Arizona experience a job loss or other financial hardship, it's possible to ask for to have a child support order modified. The order can be modified either temporarily or permanently depending on the reason for a parent's financial hardship.
Judges in Arizona and around the country will generally rely on DNA evidence to determine paternity, as the results of these tests are incredibly accurate. DNA tests are usually ordered to identify the biological father of a child in child support cases, but they may also provide crucial evidence when fathers are seeking custody or visitation rights. When alleged fathers in Arizona refuse to cooperate by providing a tissue sample for DNA testing, the Office of the Attorney General may get involved to compel them to do so.
Parents in Arizona who fall behind on child support payments may not be doing so on purpose. However, they may still be labeled a deadbeat by the state or by others who don't fully understand why they aren't keeping up with their financial obligations. It is important to note that individuals of either gender could fail to make child support payments or otherwise make an effort to raise their children.
Child support payments in Arizona can be significantly lower than those right across the border in New Mexico, according to one study. Custody X Change, a smartphone app marketed to single and divorced parents to manage child custody and visitation schedules, used hypothetical data for a family in all 50 states to measure the differences in child support payments. Under federal law, each state is free to set its own child support guidelines, and the differences can be striking. In order to obtain clear results, they used the same family structure and income from both parents in all 50 states.
Parents in Arizona who are paying child support may have those payments terminated in the future. However, a paying parent is generally required to meet their support obligations until an order is modified or rescinded. For example, a child may become emancipated prior to his or her 18th birthday. Courts will consider the child's age and maturity level when deciding whether or not to grant such a request.
"Deadbeat parents" is a common term thrown around in the media for anyone unable to afford their child support payments. But the reality is that most parents that are unable to meet their child support payments are not doing so out of neglect or ill will. In many cases, low-income parents in Arizona and across the country are simply unable to afford the child support payments required by the court.
Paternity and maternity testing has become a fairly standard process with child custody matters in Arizona when parentage comes into question. In some family law situations, it's required to settle disputes or determine who is responsible for making child support payments. Also, when parents are unmarried when a child is conceived, the father isn't automatically considered the father legally. He is usually referred to as the "alleged father" unless both parents sign a voluntary acknowledgement of paternity form.
As a general rule, Arizona parents are required to provide financial assistance to their children. If parents get divorced, one will usually pay child support to the other even if no one has asked for it. There are also scenarios in which a parent may ask that support payments be stopped after an order is entered. This could occur if the custodial parent gets a raise at work or receives a large inheritance.