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Child support calculations, regardless of a parent’s financial stature, will be made based on standards set forth by the Arizona Child Support Guidelines.When one parent is extremely wealthy, however, Arizona courts can deviate from these guidelines if rigid application of the formula would lead to an inappropriate or unjust outcome.

Arizona Guidelines for Extremely Wealthy Parents

The Arizona Child Support Guidelines set forth a presumptive formula for calculating child support based on several factors, which include:

  • The incomes of each parent
  • The cost of health insurance and day care
  • The parenting time schedule

The income table used in the state’s child support formula tops out at a combined parental income of $20,000 per month.

Theoretically, this means application of the guidelines could result in children of a wealthy parent receiving significantly less in child support than is in the child’s best interest. As a result, the children could receive less material items, life experiences, and opportunities when they are with the lower income earning parent.

For this reason, a court may deviate from the guidelines if applying the formula would be inappropriate or unjust. The theory underlying the guidelines is that children should be entitled to the same level of expenditures after divorce that they would have received if the parents lived together and combined financial resources.

Factors the Court Considers

When deciding whether to deviate from the state’s guidelines, the court will look at the children’s historical lifestyle/standard of living, the future needs of the children, and the disparity in parental incomes.

If it is your position that the court should order child support in excess of the guidelines because of your spouse’s high income, it is important to prepare (or have an expert prepare), a historical overview of family expenditures that directly (clothing, private education, food, etc.) and indirectly (housing, cars, electricity, etc.) benefit the children. You should also present evidence of the children’s “needs” in the context of your spouse’s station in life.

Contact us at Hallier Stearns PLC for more information on child support obligations and issues.