Modifying Child Support in Arizona is possible if you can show that there has been a change in your circumstances.
As a parent, it’s natural to want to provide for your children and make sure they have everything they need. Child support payments, however, should be based upon family’s changing and current needs. This is because children grow and change and their need for financial support usually increases as they grow up, not the other way around. In addition to that, Children’s parents often have substantial changes that can affect child support both up and down.
If you have an existing order for child support, it can be modified if there has been a “changed circumstances” that qualify to modify that are significant changes since the order was made by the Court. While there are numerous factors to justify a modification request, it is essential to differentiate between a major change in circumstances and a minor change. What exactly would qualify as a “changed circumstance” that the court would allow to modify your child support order?
Slight changes do not warrant a review of child support amounts, because the Court does not have the “band width” the staff or resources to constantly change with every change in parent’s lives. Thus, the rule was created to prohibit the over-filing of modifications and to permit those that truly qualify for a decrease or an increase in the child support order. If the case is being manage through the Child Support Enforcement arm of Arizona, they have a policy of review every three years if there have been no continuing and substantial changes. And in private cases, most people elect either every two years or sometime every year at year end or another meaningful date to them.
Continuing and Substantial Change in Circumstances
Regardless of custodial status, that being sole, joint or somewhere in between, either parent can request a child support modification as long as they can show their “changed circumstances”. Increased or decreased income are common causes of modification requests, but they are not the only reason an adjustment can be warranted. A court may determine a child support modification is needed if:
- There’s been a change in custody or parenting time;
- New marriage or live-in relationship that contributes to household income;
- Additional children born of the new relationship of a parent;
- Disability or long-term illness of either parent or the children that change income-earning ability;
- A parent becomes incarcerated or committed;
- Daycare or childcare arrangements drastically change;
- Health insurance premiums or coverage change;
- A parent experiences a job change in another state or county changing the parenting time;
- Child’s special needs have changed such as expensive competitive sports costs, or necessary tutoring or additional medical care costs that can be included into the child support worksheet calculation
- Significant help both financial and domestic care from a family member like a grandparent ceases.
There are many more reasons to modify child support, and this is not an exhaustive list. If you need guidance on whether or not your change in circumstances might qualify for a child support modification, please reach out to McMurdie Law & Mediation.
Procedures for Modification
There are a couple of options when seeking to modify child support in Arizona. The simplified procedure may be the best route if the amount of support is expected to change by at least 15% of the current award. In this procedure, a petition must be filed for modification, and a hearing is scheduled if the other parent requests. There are timeframes and varying deadlines for this method that are based on factors like where the parents reside and whether an objection is filed.
The standard procedure for requesting to modify child support often results in a conference or hearing being scheduled to review the change in circumstances. Any substantial changes that warrants modification will be considered according to the Arizona Child Support Guidelines to determine the adjusted award for support. It’s a good idea to work with a trusted family law attorney who can help you file the appropriate petitions and meet the required deadlines.
Requirements for Filing a Request
The requirements for filing and requesting child support modification will vary depending on which method you use and the details of your case. However, you can expect to be asked for some or all of the following:
- Latest 3 pay stubs;
- Copies of recent years’ tax returns with W-2s and 1099s;
- Proof of daycare expenses;
- Documentation of healthcare and medical costs;
- Copies of birth certificates;
- Medical, dental and vision care receipts;
- Activity Fees receipts and proof of payment;
- Proof of insurance costs.
In addition to these specific items, you will need to show evidence of the change in circumstances that created a need to modify your child support order.
If you would like to request a modification to your Child Support Order or have questions about whether your circumstances warrant a review, call McMurdie Law & Mediation at (480) 777-5500.