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Determining a basic child support obligation using the guidelines

Parents have a duty to provide for their minor children. This does not necessarily mean they need to get them everything they want or even luxuries, but they do need to provide shelter, food and clothing at a minimum. Sometimes, if the couple is divorced, ensuring that the child's financial needs are met by both parents can become a little more difficult.

When there is a divorce or if the parents were never married to begin with, one parent will generally pay child support to the other parent. Most of the time the non-custodial parent will pay the custodial parent to ensure the custodial parent does not have the entire financial burden.

There are a number of costs that are associated with child support depending on the circumstances, but basic child support is determined by the child support guidelines in Arizona. The guidelines start with determining a couple's adjusted gross income, which is the gross income minus deductions for child support paid for a non-joint child, spousal maintenance and others.

After the adjusted gross income is determined, one would look at the Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations. The couple would find the gross monthly income closest to their adjusted gross income. Then they would look at the number in the box for how many children they have together. For example, if the couple has an adjusted gross income of $7,000 a month and two minor children, the basic child support obligation is $1,442. Each parent's portion of that is determined by the percentage of the total adjusted gross income they earn.

The amount child support owed depends on a number of factors, but the basic child support obligation is determined by the Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations. Child support orders can be much more complicated than one might think and experienced attorneys may be a useful guide.

Source: Superior Court of Maricopa County, "Arizona Child Support Guidelines" accessed on December 7, 2015

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