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Michael A. Johnson
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How is child support calculated in Arizona?

| Sep 17, 2020 | Child Support |

When a married couple divorces, they eventually conclude that their family dynamic and financial outlook will change. No matter the desired outcome, a divorcing couple must compromise to reach a conclusion. The two parties can negotiate these sacrifices, like property division and child custody, through mediation, a collaborative divorce or litigation (the most expensive option).

One compromise that is non-negotiable in the eyes of the court, unless an extreme case presents itself, is child support.

Income shares

In Arizona, both parents chip in for child support. How much each parent pays is determined by each parent’s income. In some cases, underlying factors like health insurance, medical costs, extracurricular costs, health insurance or daycare expenses may factor into the calculations.

That said, the over-arching factor is income and the cost of raising a child in their city. According to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA), it costs roughly $280,000 to raise a child from zero to 18 years old in Arizona. That number differs whether the family lives in an urban or rural part of the state. The United States average cost is around $233,000. For this example, we’ll use a median of those two numbers, about $256,000 or $1,185 per month.

Once the cost per month to raise a child is calculated, each parent must disclose their annual income. In this example, Parent A makes $66,000 per year or 60% of the family’s yearly income, while Parent B brought in the remaining 40% or $44,000 per year. 

Because Parent A brought in 60% of the family’s income before the divorce occurred, they would pay 60% of the $1,185 monthly child support payment, or $711 per month. Parent B would pay the remaining 40% or $474 per month.

It’s important to understand that child custody determinations can impact the realities of child support.

Custodial vs. non-custodial parent

The income shares model allows more leniency for the custodial parent (the parent granted a more significant share of custody). The state assumes their monthly payment is going toward the child’s housing, food, clothing and other necessities. This could change in the event of joint custody.

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