Arizona Family Law judges are becoming more and more accustomed to and open minded to child support deviations. A child support deviation is where the Court grants a different child support amount than what the Child Support Guidelines provide for in the standard calculations.
Such deviation may result in a higher or lower child support obligation than what would otherwise result from a standard Guidelines calculation. Section 20 of the Arizona Child Support Guidelines provides that a Court may deviate from the Guidlelines if such is in the children's best interests and after assessing other relevant factors. The parties' respective standards of living may be signficiant to such analysis. For example, a person may have a higher standard of living because of contributions from a parent, because of signficant property interests, or because they have become remarried. Although a new spouse's income is not included for purposes of the child support calculation, such may be relevant to the standard of living in the household which may lead to a reduction / deviation of the other person's child support obligation. A person may request a higher child support award if they have a lower standard of living, or if the child has special needs that cannot be met through the parent's income and resources.
The Child Support Guidelines are reviewed every four years. Although there have not been substantial changes in the Guidelines for many years, there are current proposals that may substantially effect the amount of child support where one of the parents earns substantially more income than the other parent, i.e. in some cases almost tripling the child support obligation. Such proposal is supported by some as a great method to ensure the spouse with less resources can provide a more equitable standard of living for the children, while such proposal is contested by others as unfairly penalizing the higher earning spouse. We will keep you posted on this blog regarding if and when such change takes place.