You have questions about child support, we have answers.

Though child support is calculated using a standardized formula, it is still one of the more controversial issues in family law. Below are answers to some of the most common questions about Arizona child support. If you do not find the answer to your question, please let us know. We are always adding new answers to this resource.

Child Support

Child support is intended to allocate and balance the parents’ financial responsibility for their children.

There is no legal requirement for how child support must be spent. Conceptually, it includes the child’s portion of some of the normal costs of living such as mortgage/rent, taxes, utilities, and groceries.

Arizona child support is calculated using a standardized formula that factors the parents’ incomes, the total number of children, spousal or child support paid or received, parenting time, and the cost to insure the children, if any.

The family court may also consider discretionary factors such as extraordinary expenses related to the children and/or daycare costs incurred.

Child support may be established retroactively up to three years, pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-320. This means that the family court may establish child support dating back to up to three years before the petition to establish is filed.
Generally speaking, child support terminates when a child turns eighteen or graduates high school, whichever occurs last. Other events, such as the child’s marriage, may emancipate the child and terminate child support.
Yes, a parent may request temporary orders for child support pursuant to Rule 47.
Yes, parenting time is a significant factor in the calculation of Arizona child support. More parenting time can greatly reduce a parent’s child support obligation.
Not seeing your child probably means that you’re not credited with any parenting time. This will actually increase your child support obligation, sometimes substantially.
Yes, like almost all family law orders, child support can be modified when circumstances change that would increase or decrease ongoing child support by at least 15%.
Child support is ordinarily ordered to be paid through the clearinghouse via wage assignment. This is also sometimes known as wage garnishment. The clearinghouse then distributes the child support to the recipient parent.
It depends. If the child support obligation is considered to be de minimis or if the parents can prove that it is otherwise in the best interests of the child.
When a parent doesn’t pay court-ordered child support, the other parent can ask the family court to enforce the order.

The judge may set a ‘purge’ payment or a larger, lump sum amount that the non-paying parent is required to pay to avoid incarceration. Yes, a parent can be jailed for nonpayment of child support.

When a parent repeatedly refuses to pay, the family court can order that parent into accountability court. Accountability court is an intensive court program that helps monitor and ensure compliance with child support orders.
Yes, though the guidelines are ordinarily adopted, the family court does have some discretion to reduce (or increase) child support. This is called a deviation, either downward or upward, and must be based on specific findings by the judge.
The child support calculator factors each parent’s number of biological or adopted children.

If a parent has additional children after child support has been ordered, it may be grounds for modification.

Yes, a parent can voluntarily relinquish parental rights. Parental rights can also be involuntarily terminated by a judge. This does not end that parent’s child support obligation unless the child is subsequently adopted by a third party.
No, parents are not required to hire an attorney to represent them in family court. Some cases may be navigable without an attorney, but when the issues are contested, it is always advisable to at least get a free initial consultation.
“Arrears” refers to unpaid child support.
Arizona child support factors a parent’s earning capacity, which is not necessarily equivalent to their current income.

In other words, if a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed (by taking a lower paying job), the family court can attribute a higher income consistent with the parent’s historical income or earning capacity as determined by the parent’s education, experience, and training.

The child support calculator can include extraordinary expenses related to a child like, for example, a child who has special dietary needs or other additional recurring costs. The inclusion of these costs is discretionary, so compelling evidence is critical.
Self-employed parents pose unique challenges in Arizona child support cases. Self-employed individuals are frequently the beneficiaries of creative corporate accounting.

Self-employment income for child support purposes may not correspond exactly to taxable income because certain tax deductions can be added to the parent’s taxable income for child support purposes. In these situations, our experienced child support attorneys can help accurately calculate a self-employed parent’s real income.

When a parent who owes child support is self-employed, the other parent can request a six month bond or prepayment of child support pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-503.01.

Second jobs (and voluntary overtime) may be excluded from the child support calculation.
Unless a parent has a physical or mental disability that prevents working, an unemployed parent will likely be attributed with whatever wage he or she is capable of earning.
Yes, spousal maintenance or alimony is deducted from the payor ex-spouse’s income and added to the receiving spouse’s income for child support purposes.

Arizona Family Court

The time required for Arizona child support cases can vary based on the case’s complexity and the parents’ reasonableness. A simple establishment or modification can usually be accomplished in as little as a month or two. If the issues are more complex or if they are contested, it can take several months before there is a final resolution.
The court costs depend on the nature of the action and whether any additional court services are required.

For example, the filing fee to establish paternity, legal decision-making, parenting time, and child support is currently $268.00.

The filing fee to modify an existing order is less expensive, currently $84.00.

Beyond the filing fee, the family court may order the parents to attend a parenting conference or appoint other professionals to aid the judge in child custody cases. A parenting conference costs each party $300.00, though payment plans are available. Other services, like a best interests attorney or a court appointed advisor may be cost the parents even more.

The court costs depend on the nature of the action and whether any additional court services are required.

For example, the filing fee to establish paternity, legal decision-making, parenting time, and child support is currently $268.00.

The filing fee to modify an existing order is less expensive, currently $84.00.

Beyond the filing fee, the family court may order the parents to attend a parenting conference or appoint other professionals to aid the judge in child custody cases. A parenting conference costs each party $300.00, though payment plans are available. Other services, like a best interests attorney or a court appointed advisor may be cost the parents even more.

ECR is the abbreviation for electronic court records, which is an online system used in Maricopa County that allows litigants and attorneys to access almost all case documents online.
In addition to using ECR, you can visit the docket directly for Maricopa County family law cases.
Some child support cases may be heard before a commissioner. But, for those that are heard by judges, the judge is randomly assigned.

Though family law judges can rotate to other areas of the law, we try to maintain a current list of Maricopa County Family Law Judges.

In child support cases, rulings can be issued from the bench. If a matter is taken under advisement, the judge has up to sixty days to enter an order.
Yes! The Superior Court’s locations and website provide self-service resources such as basic forms used for most types of family law cases, including child support.
Arizona family courts have discretion to award attorney’s fees in family cases.

Pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-324, attorney’s fees are often awarded when one parent has significantly more financial resources than the other parent or when a party acts unreasonably during litigation.

ARFLP stands for Arizona Rules of Family Law Procedure. These rules apply to all types of Arizona family law cases, including child support cases, and must be followed even when a litigant is unrepresented. In fact, unrepresented litigants are held to the same standard as an attorney. Procedural mistakes, even when completely accidental, can be ruinous to a family law case.
Contempt is a finding that a litigant willfully violated a court order. In family law cases, contempt actions may bring additional sanctions. In Arizona child support cases, these sanctions can include incarceration for nonpayment or other financial sanctions.
An affidavit of financial information is a sworn statement prepared by each litigant to detail his or her financial situation. It includes income information and a schedule of monthly expenses.
Pursuant to ARFLP Rule 49, the parties must disclose, at the very least, the following documents in every Arizona child support case:

1.  a fully completed affidavit substantially similar to Form 2, Affidavit of Financial Information;

2.  proof of income of the party from all sources, specifically including complete tax returns, W-2 forms, 1099 forms, and K-1 forms, for the past two (2) completed calendar years, and year-to-date income information for the current calendar year, including, but not limited to, year-to-date pay stub, salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefits, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, recurring gifts, prizes, and spousal maintenance;

3.  proof of court-ordered child support and spousal maintenance actually paid by the party in any case other than the one in which disclosure is being provided;

4.  proof of all medical, dental, and vision insurance premiums paid by the party for any child listed or referenced in the petition;

5.  proof of any child care expenses paid by the party for any child listed or referenced in the petition;

6.  proof of any expenses paid by the party for private or special schools or other particular education needs of a child listed or referenced in the petition; and

7.  proof of any expenses paid by the party for the special needs of a gifted or handicapped child listed or referenced in the petition.

We cover more about family court procedure in our Arizona Child Custody FAQ. You can also visit our blog for various child support and family court topics, usually covered in more depth.

Arizona Child Support Attorneys

Arizona Child Support Attorneys in North Scottsdale

North Scottsdale


16427 North Scottsdale Road
Suite 410
Scottsdale, Arizona
tel (480) 550-8697



Arizona Child Support Attorneys in Phoenix

Central Phoenix


2415 East Camelback Road
Suite 700
Phoenix, Arizona
tel (602) 730-6436