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Self-support reserve test and child support in Arizona

As parents in Arizona know, raising children can be very expensive. However, paying those expenses are vital for the child and extremely important. That is why courts order child support to be paid when parents split up or were never together. They want to ensure that the child's basic financial needs are being met by both parents, not just the custodial parent.

Child support is determined by the child support guidelines in Arizona. The guidelines use a formula to determine how much a child needs each month. Then the guidelines look at each parent's adjusted gross income to determine how much of that financial obligation each parent has to pay. There may also be an adjustment for the amount of parenting time that the non-custodial parent has with the child. Again the adjustment is based on a formula taking into account how many days the parent has with the child each year.

Even though this seems like a fairly rigid process, the court can deviate from the guidelines. It must perform the self-support reserve test to determine if the non-custodial parent can afford the payment determined by the guidelines.

This test deducts $1,115 from the paying parent's adjusted gross income. If the result is less than the child support payment according to the guidelines, then the court may reduce the child support payment. However, the court must also determine how the reduction will affect the custodial parent's financial situation. In situations where the self-support reserve test indicates that both parents are unable to pay their portion of the child support, it is in the court's discretion to determine the child support amounts.

While the child support guidelines in Arizona seem rigid there is some flexibility in certain situations. One of those situations is if the self-support reserve test indicates that the paying parent cannot afford the child support payment each month. Experienced attorneys understand the child support laws and may be a useful resource.

Source: Superior Court of Maricopa County, "Arizona Child Support Guidelines," accessed on Sep. 28, 2015

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