Do I have to pay child support if I only work seasonally?

People who make a living from seasonal employment often face difficult financial challenges. Typically, seasonal workers can only expect to generate income during several months of the year, yet they must find a way to stretch those funds for the full year. This is true whether you work as a tour guide at the Grand Canyon, holiday home decorator or as a migrant agricultural worker.

The fact of the matter is that Arizona law holds both parents responsible for providing support of their natural and adopted children. Generally, this obligation remains until the child's 18th birthday, and is not dependent on your unemployment or under employment. Put simply, it will cost you something to support your child if the paternity of the child has been established and you are considered his or her parent. This is true regardless of whether you provide the primary residence for the child.

Arizona currently follows what is known as the income shares model when discussing the Arizona Child Support Guidelines. This allows family courts to consider the incomes of both parents when making determinations regarding child support. For seasonal workers this is usually determined by attributing your child support obligation to the average income that you might make during the course of the year. So if you earn $12,000 over the course of 12 months a court might figure your monthly income at $1,000 -- even if you earned that money working only four months of the entire year.

It's important for you to also know that there are sometimes extenuating circumstances that may affect your child support obligations. For example, a disability that prevents you from maintaining your job or pursuing other employment. Additionally, you may experience a change in your child support obligation if you are currently paying both child and spousal support to a parent who remarries.

What is important to remember is that your Arizona family law attorney can represent your position to the court with regards to these changing conditions. In some circumstances, your attorney can request a modification to an existing child support order. Usually, this can occur whenever you experience substantial and ongoing changes in your life that may affect your ability to pay.

Source: Maricopa County Superior Court, "Arizona Child Support Guidelines," accessed May. 06, 2015

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