To some, it can seem obvious; to others, it can seem unfair. But if the payor of child support doesn’t file a motion with the court to modify child support when the older of two (or several) children graduates high school and reaches the age of majority, the child support does not automatically change — and it can’t be changed to an earlier date later. The total child support amount continues to be owed and paid until a motion is filed (or a stipulation filed) to change the amount to show that one child is out of high school.
Arizona case law tells us that the Court cannot retroactively modify a child support amount to a date prior to notice of the petition to modify, even where one child to the child support order has emancipated. The fact that a child emancipated (turned 18 and graduated from high school) does not automatically terminate child support for that child where there is another child covered by the child support order. Guerra v. Bejarano, 133 P. 3d 752, 212 Ariz. 442 (2006).
In Guzman v. Guzman, 175 Ariz. 183, 854 P.2d 1169 (1993), the Court recognized that where there is only one child covered by a child support order, that child’s emancipation (in that case, by marriage) would terminate the child support obligation. Guzman is distinguishable from the Guerra case because the Guerra child support order covered more than one child.