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Study finds that most people feel child support laws are unfair

Arizona parents whose marriages are ending may want to learn about the findings of a recent study dealing with how the public views the way that courts calculate child support. Researchers from Arizona State University presented hypothetical child support scenarios to study participants in both Arizona and England and asked them how much they would have awarded in each case. The researchers concluded that most people feel that the law is often out of step with generally held concepts of fairness.

Respondents were more likely to adjust child support based on the income fluctuations of both the custodial and noncustodial parents, and they often used the percentage figures of the original award to determine the adjusted amount. In Arizona, the incomes of both the custodial and noncustodial parent are considered when a child support order order is issued, but other states only take the earnings of the noncustodial parent into account.

Those surveyed took far more interest in the earnings of custodial parents than many courts do, and they also felt that child support awards should be revisited when the custodial parent marries. However, stepparents are normally not considered legally responsible to provide support to their stepchildren. The study was published on June 1.

Family law attorneys have likely encountered parents who feel that the child support guidelines are sometimes unfair and capricious. It has been noted that many parents who are ordered to pay support believe that the amount is too much, while many recipients conversely believe that it is insufficient. A parent who is contemplating a divorce may wish to speak with an attorney to determine how this matter should be handled.

Source: Arizona Department of Economic Security, "Establishing a Child Support Order Frequently Asked Questions", accessed on June 9, 2015

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