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    Luck0rN0t's Avatar
    Luck0rN0t Posts: 263, Reputation: 45
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    #1

    Mar 3, 2015, 07:28 PM
    What does child support cover in Arizona
    I think I have the correct information, but want to be sure.

    I pay child support for my kid based upon the Income Shares Model that Arizona uses. The order was signed by the judge about six months ago.

    Now the father contacts me and asks for more money in addition to the child support for my son's extracurricular activities that he enrolled our child in over a year ago. He is asking for half of the costs of the activities, going forward, claiming that the cost was never figured into the child support amount.

    As I understand it, the Income Shares Model assumes that the amount of child support is to pay for more than the bare necessities, but also for hobbies, trips, after-school, and extracurricular activities. This is not an "extraordinary" child, with any special needs nor does he attend private school or anything of the sort. I have always assumed the money I pay is to take care of my child, period. I do not question why a 7 year old is getting $22 haircuts when I get $12 ones, that is dads prerogative as to how he spends the money.

    Is there any legal credibility to his request? I do know that it does not constitute an on substantial and ongoing change, since the monthly amount he is asking for does not amount to a 15% deviation from the current support amount, but if I'm mistaken about what I pay is supposed to cover, I would like to know.

    TIA
    cdad's Avatar
    cdad Posts: 12,688, Reputation: 1438
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    #2

    Mar 3, 2015, 08:14 PM
    The child support doesn't cover those activities because every child is different. It is normally left for the parents to agree upon activities and such. If he is acting independently and putting the child in classes or activities that require a fee then it should be agreed upon first before asking the other party for anything.
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,303, Reputation: 7691
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    #3

    Mar 3, 2015, 09:31 PM
    There is not normally a specific list of what child support covers. In general it is for housing, food, clothes, basic needs of life. Thinks like sports, lessons, tutoring and the such is not normally considered part of it.

    With that said, unless the child suport / custody agreement says you must pay 1/2, and there is a method to decide what lessons to take, there is no legal obligation to do so.
    Luck0rN0t's Avatar
    Luck0rN0t Posts: 263, Reputation: 45
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    #4

    Mar 3, 2015, 10:58 PM
    Fair enough. So, in general, if child support is intended to cover the basic needs of life for a child, then it would be reasonable to assume that those costs would remain fairly consistent across mid-to-upper economic boundaries, wouldn't it?

    For example, the basic needs of a child would remain fairly constant regardless of whether the parents each made $50,000/yr. vs. $100,000/yr. Certainly the standard of living for the more well off couple would probably be higher, however, it doesn't stand to reason that the child's "basic needs" which used to cost $800/month to pay for now costs $1,600/month... would it?

    Yet, the Income Shares Model does get adjusted based upon the parents income, rather than any base amount of the cost of raising a child.

    While this is from New Jersey, it explains what I have been told applies to my state, as well.

    Additional Child Support for Extraordinary Expenses in New Jersey | DivorceNet.com

    "The basic child support amounts already include the cost of normal entertainment expenses, including hobbies, lessons, and other recreational activities, so a parent seeking a contribution for these types of activities would have to justify them as “extraordinary” based on a child’s special needs or talents."
    Fr_Chuck's Avatar
    Fr_Chuck Posts: 81,303, Reputation: 7691
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    #5

    Mar 4, 2015, 05:40 AM
    No, there is a huge difference in life style from 50,000 to 100,000, in size and type of home they live in, type of car, and other items, For example, my income is much higher than my exwife, I live in a high rise apartment complex (understand I am n China) were we have drinking water from the tap (almost unheard of here) We have central heat and air ( also not normal in most housing) my apartment is about 5 times the size of my exwife. She would be considered. So the cost of housing for a higher income family goes up. My exwife, uses public transportation or has a bike. I have three electric scooters and a car, and a bike. We vacation in Hong Kong, Singapore, Israel, Egypt and so on.

    If your specific agreement, includes the wording that it covers normal recrection that is the basic after school and weekend issues, lessons and hobbies would be again things that most children do. The issue is, that unless the court order says you have to pay for something, you do not have to pay for anything, not listed in the court order.
    ScottGem's Avatar
    ScottGem Posts: 64,970, Reputation: 6056
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    #6

    Mar 4, 2015, 06:14 AM
    Child Support is generally based on a percentage of income. But Family Courts have some latitude to adjust the amount to try to preserve the child's standard of living (which would include things beyond basic needs). Also support is subject to negotiations between the parents. If the parents agree to more, than the court will approve it.

    That being said, if the custodial parent finds that the support is not enough to cover things, the custodial parent can go back to court and ask for a modification. The court can then review the expenses and decide if increased support is necessary. But 6 months is short time to go back for a modification.

    Since the child was enrolled in these activities prior to the support agreement, then they should have been included in the calculations. If they weren't it was his fault for not doing so. If he feels they weren't, then, again, he needs to go back to the court for a modification.
    talaniman's Avatar
    talaniman Posts: 54,086, Reputation: 10852
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    #7

    Mar 4, 2015, 08:09 AM
    You are under no obligation whatsoever to supply any additional money for anything not in your own divorce decree, and/or child support order. The onus is on the custodial parent to get a modification in the current order.

    Legally you don't have to do anything the court doesn't order you to do, no matter what the custodial spouse says. While they can certainly ask, its up to YOU how you respond to any requests for additional money beyond what the court has ordered.

    Now what he does about it is up to him, but he can seek to get his way through the court, or threaten you with further court actions. This is a very common course of action between couples who couldn't agree on things in the first place.
    Luck0rN0t's Avatar
    Luck0rN0t Posts: 263, Reputation: 45
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    #8

    Mar 4, 2015, 02:20 PM
    Very helpful replies, thank you all. I am perfectly willing to agree to a recalculation or modification if he want to pursue it. I want to provide support for my child in an amount that is fair and I want it to go through the proper channels to do so, not to just pay him directly each month (as he is requesting). I have been on the receiving end, as well, so I do know what that is like. He can try to get his way in court, but without an ongoing and substantial change in circumstance, the court won't normally even give him the time of day - especially within a year of the original order.

    It *feels* a bit retaliatory that he suddenly asked for an extra $50 each month on the heels of my filing for a modification of parenting time. I have raised a child, on my own, and I have a pretty good idea of what $700/mo plus medical and child care payments will cover for a young, healthy child in this state. While I think he is just being a greedy jerk, I am trying to distance myself from my emotional reaction and take a more pragmatic approach to it all, thus, my question on this board.
    AK lawyer's Avatar
    AK lawyer Posts: 12,592, Reputation: 977
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    #9

    Mar 5, 2015, 09:16 AM
    ... It *feels* a bit retaliatory that he suddenly asked for an extra $50 each month on the heels of my filing for a modification of parenting time. ...
    You didn't indicate before that you are asking for a modification of parenting time. If your application for more (presumably) parenting time is granted, you can expect the court to also re-compute the child support. The increased cost for the extra-curricular activities may well be factored in (although most states don't figure child support based upon actual expenses, but rather upon each parent's income). In other words, if you ask for more time, you have probably waived the "changed circumstances" rule.
    Luck0rN0t's Avatar
    Luck0rN0t Posts: 263, Reputation: 45
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    #10

    Mar 6, 2015, 10:58 AM
    I understand what will trigger a recalculation of child support. That part doesn't confuse me. Some folks suggested that the father can, on his own, file for a modification of child support and I was saying that he doesn't stand much of a chance of that, due to current circumstances. Yes, in two - three months, as a result of my action, I am requesting it be modified to align with the change in parenting time. Of course he can ask for more money at that time.

    My question is only about the intended use of child support monies. He can spend it on whatever he wants, I know, but as indicated, the amount is based upon income in Arizona (the Income Shares Model) which does not attempt to figure out what it actually costs to raise a child, but makes the focus of calculation the parents income and the percentages associated with those. This, alone suggests that it is not intended only for bare necessities (nor should it) or it would not care how much each parent makes, only what it actually costs to raise the child. That is far too cumbersome, so we have guidelines that the courts follow making it easier to calculate and more equitable for children in similar situations. While the court can deviate from the child support calculations, they rarely do, unless there are extraordinary circumstances.

    My question is only about what child support is intended to cover in Arizona. As demonstrated by the comments, there are differing opinions, but I have not been able to locate anything in writing, like I found for New Jersey (above), clearly outlining the legal intent.
    talaniman's Avatar
    talaniman Posts: 54,086, Reputation: 10852
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    #11

    Mar 6, 2015, 11:39 AM
    Most child support calculations only represent what the state deems fair for both parents. Its up to the parents to manage within the guideline of whatever the money is. Maybe you can call the child support division of your court jurisdiction, or the court you went through, and get an official calculation guide, if that's what you wish.

    The unknown factor is the cooperation of the parents though which has no formula, nor can be predicted. Who knows what goes into THAT emotion driven motivation between adults.

    This is all I could find, hope it helps.

    http://www.azcourts.gov/familylaw/Ch...formation.aspx
    Luck0rN0t's Avatar
    Luck0rN0t Posts: 263, Reputation: 45
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    #12

    Mar 6, 2015, 07:03 PM
    Good advice and thank you!

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