Going through a divorce can be a tough time for most families. In some cases, the divorce process gets messy, and both parents try to fight for the custody of their children. Usually, one parent gets to have physical custody of the children while the other is required to pay child support.
If you’re going through a hard divorce or a child support case in Arizona, you should speak to a lawyer who is familiar with the state guidelines and legal processes of divorce and child support.
What is Child Support
Child support is a certain amount of money a non-custodial parent pays to the custodial parent of their child to cover the basic necessities of the child, such as food, clothing, medical expenses, school fees, entertainment, and extracurricular activities.
Who Pays Child Support After a Divorce?
During a divorce, there’s always a misconception that it is the responsibility of the father to pay child support to the mother, but it is not always so. Depending on your state laws, several factors determine how child support is paid and who pays child support.
Generally, both parents are obligated to bear the financial responsibility of their children. But oftentimes, during a divorce, depending on the circumstances of the divorce, one parent may end up winning the right to have physical custody of the children, thereby fulfilling their obligation to the child by being the custodial parent. The other parent would then be required to pay child support as part of their responsibilities for the child.
In most cases, physical custody of the child goes to the mother, and dads would be mandated to pay child support. However, if the dad has physical custody, he would not be mandated to pay child support.
How Much is Paid as Child Support
Different states have their guidelines on child support; however, the amount a parent pays for child support is often determined by the court. The court takes into account several factors, such as the parent’s income, the number of children, special needs, and the amount of time the parent spends with the child.
In some instances, the court may make adjustments or deviate from the state’s guidelines if there are justifiable reasons for deviating. For instance, if the needs of the child increase or the cost of living get higher, the court may increase the amount of money the non-custodial parent pays as child support. Vice-versa, the court can also reduce the amount paid as child support.
Who Pays Child Support in Cases of Joint Custody
When both parents have joint custody of the children, both may be required to pay child support. The court would calculate what each parent is expected to pay by considering the incomes of both parents and the amount of time each parent spends with the child. If both parents spend equal time with the children, child support may only be necessary if one parent earns more income than the other. If both parents earn similar incomes, they may not be required to pay child support at all. However, whether child support is necessary for joint custody would majorly depend on the state laws and the divorce agreements.
How Long Does Child Support Last
Based on state guidelines, the non-custodial parent is under obligation to pay child support until any of the following occurs:
The child is legally recognized as an adult
Once a person reaches 18 years, they are no longer considered minors, but adults under the law, and child support no longer applies. However, exceptions can be made if the child has special needs.
The child has active duty in the military
Although this does not apply in all states, it applies in most states and usually involves court procedures.
Your parental rights are terminated
In cases where you lose your parental rights to the child either through adoption or other legal processes, you may no longer be required to pay child support.
The child is emancipated legally by a court
In some cases where the court decides that a child can handle their responsibilities, you may no longer be needed to pay child support.
What Happens When a Parent Fails to Pay Child Support
Failure to keep up with your child support payments is considered as defying court orders and may attract legal consequences such as jail time, seizure of property, seizure of license, etc.
Should you have any difficulties with your child support payments, it’s best to talk to a child support lawyer who will walk you through all the legal processes and let you know what options are available to you.