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Family Law

Crimes can be stressful and hard on families. You can find information here about steps you can take to address common family law issues as well as information about services that can help you.

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Child Support

Being a victim of crime can affect your ability to provide financially for your children. You may need child support to help provide for your children, or you may no longer be able to afford to pay the same amount of child support. This section covers how to ask for child support or how to modify the amount of child support you pay or receive.
Child support is an amount of money one parent must pay to the other parent to contribute to the living and care expenses of a child. The amount of child support a parent is ordered to pay may depend on:
  • The income of both parents or what the parent or parents are capable of earning

  • Expenses paid for the children such as medical insurance, school, and daycare costs

  • The amount of parenting time each parent has with the children

The court can issue a child support order when:

  • The children in the case are under 18

  • Paternity is established

  • The parents are separated or divorced and did not have a child support order established at the time of their divorce or the parents were never married

  • The children are in the custody or an agency, caretaker, or other proper figure

  • Both parents are given notice that an order will be established. If a parent does not reply to notice, a default order may be entered

How is Child Support Ordered?

Child support may be ordered by a court as part of a divorce, legal separation, or paternity action, or through a court action to establish child support only.
Before ordering a person to pay child support, the court must find that the person has a legal obligation to support the child. For instance, if a child was born outside of marriage, this might require establishing paternity to determine the child’s father.
The State of Arizona can help parents to establish child support, through the DES (Department of Economic Security) Division of Child Support Services (DCSS). If a parent is receiving public assistance or benefits from DES, they are automatically referred to DCSS to establish child support. DCSS may file a court case to order child support and establish paternity if necessary. If DCSS files a case to establish child support, they do not also assist to establish legal decision-making or parenting time orders for the child.

How is the amount of child support calculated?

In Arizona, child support is determined by the Arizona Child Support Guidelines, which give specific instructions for how to calculate child support.
Child support calculations include expenses for things like medical insurance for the child, childcare, education, as well as how the parties will divide uncovered medical expenses and any child tax credits or exemptions.

The amount of time each parent spends with the child also affects the child support amount.
If you are establishing child support with a dissolution (divorce), legal separation, or legal decision-making and parenting time case, child support will be established as part of that case. You do not have to file a separate child support case.
If you are not establishing child support as part of another case, you can start a case to establish child support by filing a “Petition to Establish Child Support” in the proper county (usually the county where the child is living).
These types of court forms are available in the superior court self-help centers in each county and are usually available online, as well as how the parties will divide uncovered medical expenses and any child tax credits or exemptions.
How can I get a child support order changed?
You can file a petition to request to have your child support order changed if:
  • Your situation has changed, such as losing your job or having another child, or

  • The other parent’s situation has changed, such as getting a higher paying job.


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