Child Support Calculations: How much is there to fight about, Part II

by Annette Burns on August 25, 2010

Following up on the last post, which goes over the factors that have to be agreed on or determined in order to calculate child support under Arizona's Child Support Guidelines, the issue of parenting time must be addressed.

To give you an idea of the complexity of calculating parenting time for child support calculations, I note that the Child Support Guidelines spend 3 pages (single-spaced) discussing that issue (Pages 10-12 of this file —> Download Child Support Guidelines 2005 )   In general, the non-custodial parent's time with the children is counted up, using the parameters set out in the Guidelines.  As an example:  "A period of 12 hours or more counts as one day.   A period of 6 to 11 hours counts as a half day."   It should be apparent that that method of counting, if applied to both parents, would result in far more than 365 days a year.   But the counting applies only to the parent with lesser parenting time. That method of counting can result in the non-custodial parent having, say, 90 days per year, when a rudimentary calculation of actual parenting time would come up with maybe only 40 days of parenting time.    Time with the children is counted differently, in child support land.

Before trying to calculate child support, the parenting time schedule must be known.    If the parents are disputing the amount of time each will spend with the children, an accurate child support amount probably can't be calculated.   In those cases, it's sometimes helpful to do TWO child support calculations—one showing each parent's proposed number of parenting time days.   In this way the parents can see how far apart they are, and often the child support numbers are not that different and can be resolved by agreement.

Other parenting time disputes include the parents disagreeing about whether the non-custodial parent exercises his/ her assigned time with the children; whether the children are returned early, or without having eaten; and whether the non-custodial parent supplies sufficient day-to-day needs for the children (clothing, underwear, shoes) during his/ her parenting time.    The purpose of the adjustment (deduction) to child support based on parenting time is that the Guidelines assume the non-custodial parent is paying some of the children's expenses during the parenting time. "When parenting time is exercised by the noncustodial parent, a portion of the costs for children normally expended by the custodial parent shifts to the noncustodial parent."    [Guidelines, Section 11]  And that's just one more area to dispute.

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