Modifying Child Support Obligations in Arizona

Many Americans are currently experiencing financial setbacks due to stagnant economic conditions. For some, this means child support payment amounts that were once manageable are becoming burdensome. Fortunately, there is a well-defined process facilitated by Arizona courts that can help you lower your child support load.

In Arizona, only the Superior Court can legally change the payments required by a child support order and either parent may request a modification from the court. Changes to the income stream of one or both parent, changes in the costs of medical insurance or changes in the costs of daycare for a child are a few valid reasons for seeking a modification.

In Arizona, there are two filing options: "Standard Procedure" or "Simplified Procedure." In a "Standard Procedure" case, a parent must show the existence of a "substantial and continuing" change in circumstances that affects child support. Some of the factors a court may take into account when deciding whether a change in circumstances is substantial and continuing include a raise or cut in wages or other sources of income, changes to a child's custody arrangements, or unanticipated expenses that make it harder to meet child support obligations.

A "Simplified Procedure" petition may be filed if the amount of child support (as calculated by the formula on a document known as the Parent's Worksheet for Child Support Amount) deviates 15 percent or more from the current order. A change of 15 percent or more is assumed to meet the "substantial and continuing" threshold, and the "Simplified Procedure" can save time and expense in court.

After either type of request is filed, the other parent will be served with all pertinent documentation. If the other parent agrees to the modification, no further action is required and the child support order will be changed. However, the other parent has 20 days (30 if he or she resides outside of Arizona) to object to the motion for modification by requesting a hearing. At a hearing, both sides will have the opportunity to present evidence for or against modification.

To ensure you have the best chances of successfully changing your child support order, it is important to have the assistance of a qualified attorney. Contact an experienced family law attorney today to find out whether your child support obligations may successfully be modified.