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Child support may be higher for extraordinary children

The remarkable accomplishments of Olympic athletes inspire sports fans in Arizona and around the country every four years, but their success is generally a reflection of the time and energy they have put into their conditioning and training efforts. Raising an Olympian often involves spending significant sums on sophisticated athletic equipment, professional coaches and experienced nutritionists, and this can be a difficult burden to bear for divorced parents.

Divorcing parents with a gifted child may make arrangements to account for their particular needs during custody and visitation discussions, and the state's child support guidelines allow Arizona family law judges to take the needs of extraordinary children into consideration. Judges base these decisions on what would be best for the children involved, and they may be persuaded to make a higher award when the child concerned is an outstanding athlete who could one day go on to achieve greatness.

However, custodial parents are not always awarded enough child support to take care of all of the expenses of raising a gifted child athlete. The amount awarded may be limited by the income of the noncustodial parent and the provisions of relevant court orders or settlement agreements. Judges may also think twice when a future professional sports career seems to be more important to the parents involved than the child.

Experienced family law attorneys may ask divorcing parents if their children have any special athletic, musical or academic abilities, and they may recommend that allowances be made to ensure that such talents are nurtured and allowed to flourish. Seeking to modify child custody arrangements after the fact can be a frustrating and contentious process, and attorneys may urge their clients to tackle these issues sooner rather than later to reduce the likelihood of future legal disputes.

Source: Arizona Judicial Branch, "Arizona Child Support Guidelines", July 1, 2015

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