Navajo County Attorney’s Office
Child Support Establishment
How is a child support order established?
Child support can be ordered as part of a separation, divorce or paternity case,
or in a separate action to establish child support. The support order is issued
by the court and sets the amount of money a parent must pay toward basic support,
medical support and child care. It can also be used to pay back public assistance
received by the custodial parent. The amount is ordered on a per month basis in
a specific dollar amount.
How is the amount of the child support determined?
Courts in the State of Arizona use child support guidelines to decide what amounts
should be ordered for child support. Child support consists of three parts: basic
support, medical support and child care support. Arizona has an “income shares”
guidelines model, which can be found at
Arizona Revised Statutes, Section 25-320. Using this model, the court looks
at the gross income or potential income of both parents, and also considers the
expenses for non-joint children living in the home of the parent, child support
orders for non-joint children not living in the home of the parent, spousal maintenance
obligations, the receipt of Social Security or veteran’s benefits, an adjustment
for court-ordered parenting time, and the ability of the obligor to pay support.
There is an on-line
child support calculator that applies Arizona’s child support laws. When
using the on-line child support calculator, please keep in mind that the county
calculates support based on all of the information available to the county at the
time it prepares the legal papers. If you use the web calculator to calculate support
based on different or newer information, you will obtain a different result. It
is your responsibility to inform the county and the court about this.
When and how does the amount of child support change?
Child support can only be changed through a court order or through a cost of living
adjustment (COLA) addressed in the court order. You can file a motion to modify
support yourself or through an attorney, or you may request the county to review
your order and if it meets the county’s qualifications, the county will file a motion
to modify support.
Request for Review
If you or the other parent receives services from the Child Support Division, you
will receive a notice of the right to request a review of your order once every
three years. You may contact the Child Support Division based on that notice, or
you may contact the Child Support Division if you believe circumstances have changed
that affect the support order. Only the court can order a modification of support,
but the Child Support Division will review the order to determine whether or not
the Child Support Division will file a motion to modify the order.
If the Child Support Division does not agree to file a motion to modify the order,
or if you do not want to wait for the Child Support Division to file the motion,
you may file a motion yourself or through an attorney. There are pro se (“do it
yourself”)motion forms available at the
Maricopa County Superior Court Clerk’s web site.
To request a modification, the Child Support Division or a party must show that
there has been a change of circumstances since the order was issued that makes the
terms of the support order unreasonable and unfair. One or more of the following
must be demonstrated to the court through evidence:
- A substantial increase or decrease in gross income of one of the parents
- A substantial increase or decrease in the needs of the child
- Receipt of public assistance
- A change in the cost of living of one of the parents
- Extraordinary medical expenses of the child
- A change in the availability of health care coverage
- A substantial increase or decrease in health care coverage costs
- The addition of or substantial increase or decrease of work-related or education-related
child care expenses
- The emancipation of a child
Cost of living adjustments (COLA) are addressed in court orders and are automatic
unless specifically waived in a court order, or unless the obligor files a motion
to contest the COLA. If you or the other parent receives child support services
from a county, and if the COLA is not specifically waived in a court order, COLAs
occur every two years, effective May 1 of the year of the increase, unless there
is a modification that occurs during that two-year time. The COLA is determined
based on the inflation rate during the two years prior to the increase based on
a specific federal consumer price index. Notices are sent out prior to the COLA,
with a form motion to request a contested hearing if the obligor does not agree
with the COLA. The form motion to contest must be filed with the court prior to
May 1 of the year of the adjustment.
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