Child support, whether you’re obligated to pay it or entitled to receive it, is a very important issue in every case and determining the proper amount of child support is not always a straight-forward endeavor.
The Arizona court system created a very useful tool called the on-line child support calculator. To access the calculator, simply do a search for “Arizona on-line child support calculator” and select the most recent edition. From there, start filling in each box that applies to your case.
If you’ve never used the calculator before or are feeling a bit lost, here are 3 tips and strategies to help you effectively use the on-line calculator:
1. INCOME: When entering each parent’s income, be sure to use each parent’s gross income. In other words, pre-tax earnings. If a parent is not working, but is capable of working, then the wage that parent is capable of earning can be used for that parent’s gross income. Thus, for a non-working parent that is capable of working and earning minimum wage, Arizona’s current minimum wage of $8.05 per hour can be used in the calculator as that parent’s gross hourly income.
2. PARENTING DAYS: Near the top of the on-line calculator parents select their child-sharing schedule with the options being: essential equal, mostly with mother or mostly with father. If a child spends more time with one parent than the other, then near the bottom of the calculator there is a place to type in the number of parenting time days that parent has each year. In general, the more parenting time days a parent has each year, the lower that parent’s child support obligation will be.
3. HEALTH CARE, CHILD CARE COSTS & THE CHILD TAX EXEMPTION: In the middle of the on-line calculator there are options for giving parents credit for the amount of money paid each month on health care and child care costs. Keep in mind that these costs need to be costs actually paid. Furthermore, for the health care cost, it needs to be the monthly cost actually paid to cover the children and should exclude the amount the parent pays to cover their own health insurance. Finally, how parents divide the annual child tax exemption can also play a role in determining the final monthly amount of child support.
Please proceed with caution when it comes to calculating child support as it is not always as straight forward as it may seem and the resulting court-ordered amount of child support can be in place for years to come.
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Julie LaBenz has been licensed to practice law in Arizona since 2006. She seeks to simply common legal problems parents and families often face by providing packaged legal services and information at affordable, set prices.