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Are you Qualified or Entitled to Receive Child Support? What Custody Arrangement is Best for Your Children?

The experienced family law attorneys of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. can answer your Arizona legal questions and assist you with child-related family law issues, including child support, parenting time, custody and visitation of children, and other aspect regarding your legal rights. With offices in Tempe AZ, Phoenix AZ, Glendale AZ, Flagstaff AZ, and representing clients throughout the state, the attorneys from our law firm have assisted many clients with difficult family law cases.

To learn more about each area of law, please click on the link or scroll down to the topic, or to contact a lawyer about your case and to schedule your free initial consultation by telephone go to Contact McGuire Gardner.

Arizona Child Support
Arizona Child Custody
Arizona Paternity and Maternity Law
Modification and Enforcement of Custody, Child Support, and Spousal Maintenance


Child Support:

The responsibility for the support and care of a child is shared by both parents. If you are the non-custodial parent, this will include paying child support. The amount of child support is calculated according to the Arizona child support guidelines. To get an idea of what you might expect to pay or receive, you can access the child support calculator from our website.

These guidelines apply to child support cases here in Arizona. They take into account a variety of factors:

What is the income of the parents How much are child care costs and who pays for it How much is insurance and who pays it Any special needs the child may have The age of the child How much time does the child spend with the parent who is paying child support

In most cases, Arizona child support obligations are typically taken directly out of the paycheck of the parent paying support and forwarded to the court. The court then handles the record keeping and forwards the payment to the parent entitled to receive it. The Court tracks these payments in case there are disagreements in the future over amounts paid.

For this reason, it is important that support payments go through the Arizona Court, not directly to the other parent or third parties.

Child support is paid when the child is under 18, or in some cases until the child is 19 if the child is still in high school. If the child has special needs, or is mentally and/or physically impaired, support may continue indefinitely.

In certain cases, the Court may allow parents to vary from the Arizona child support guidelines. This discretion rests with the Court and the Court is not obligated to allow it.

Each situation is different. You may be told that your friend pays (or receives) a certain amount of child support. This has no bearing on what you may be ordered to pay, or what you may receive. We can explain to you how the child support guidelines apply in your circumstance.

Contact the law offices of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. for a free initial consultation by telephone to discuss your questions regarding child support.

Child Custody:

The determination on how parents will share custody, both legal and physical, must always be focused on the best interests of the child.

The concept of custody encompasses two concepts, legal custody and physical custody. Legal custody concerns decision making with respect to decisions impacting the child, and physical custody determines parenting time.

If one parent is awarded sole custody that parent generally has complete responsibility with respect to important decisions in the child's life. Most often, the parent not awarded custody will have visitation rights, sometimes referred to as parenting time.

Where the Court awards joint custody of the children, the parents share in the decisions that will impact their children. These decisions may include things such as where the child will go to school, choices related to medical care, religious practices and others. An award of joint legal custody does not impact child support. It deals only with the legal rights related to decision making. When joint legal custody is awarded, a parent may or may not also have joint physical custody of the child. This does not always mean that both parents will spend exactly the same amount of time with the child.

Visitation or Parenting Time is typically ordered to ensure that the parent who does not have physical custody is still provided time with the child. As a general rule, the Court strives to ensure that both parents are present in the lives of the children where appropriate.

When considering visitation rights the Court will enter an order that provides visitation taking into account the age of the child, however, the parents can vary this if they are in agreement. Of course, if a parent does not make an effort to see the child, the Court cannot force them to. Typical visitation schedules take into account the weekday routine of the child, weekend time, and holiday and vacation issues.

In rare instances, supervised visitation can be ordered. This means that when the non-custodial parent spends time with the child, someone else must be present. This type of arrangement is most common where there is a history of violence, substance abuse or poor parenting skills. It is intended for the protection of the child.

Importantly, child support issues do not impact visitation rights. Even if a parent is having difficulty paying support, the other parent is not entitled to deny visitation. Issues of support are separate and apart from visitation and custody. Similarly, a parent who is ordered to pay support cannot withhold it because of issues with visitation.

Rarely will a Court order that a parent is not to have contact with a child. Such an order is rare and would be used only to protect the child where serious harm or abuse had occurred or was likely to occur.

Custody issues when one or more parent is in the military. Active members of the military are provided certain additional protections under federal law. If you or the opposing party are active in the military it becomes all the more important to discuss your case with an attorney.

Contact the law offices of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. for a free initial consultation by telephone to discuss a custody arrangement that would be in your children#39;s best interest

Establishing Paternity/Maternity:

When a child is born to an unmarried couple, it is important for both parents, and the child, that paternity be established.

If the father wants to have any rights in the child#39;s life, or if the mother wants to collect child support, paternity must be established. The father#39;s name on a birth certificate raises a presumption of paternity, but to enforce legal rights, paternity must be established. To do this, a parent needs to file a case with the Court.

Parental obligations are the responsibility of both parents. A mother or a father can file an action to establish paternity. After paternity is established by the Court, either parent can pursue their legal rights.

There are two ways to establish Paternity. Both parents can admit they are the parents of the child, or a genetic test can be done. Arizona Courts allow DNA tests to determine paternity. We can help you understand your options, and if necessary, help you set up paternity testing. If a parent denies paternity, the Court can force that parent to participate in genetic testing to establish paternity.

Paternity is important for several reasons. First, established paternity is necessary prior to a Court entering orders for the payment of child support. Second, paternity is necessary prior to a Court ordering and enforcing a fathers rights to custody and visitation.

Paternity actions can involve a variety of issues, typically the Court will determine: who the father of the child is, what legal and physical custody arrangement is appropriate, support obligations and medical expense for the child.

Contact the law offices of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. for a free initial consultation by telephone to discuss the importance of establishing paternity in your case.

Modification and Enforcement of Custody, Child Support, and Spousal Maintenance:

Many of the issues raised in a divorce or paternity proceeding are resolved when the Court enters the Decree of Dissolution. However, certain orders are ongoing and the Court retains the ability to modify these orders as time progresses. Also, it is sometimes necessary to seek the Court's assistance to enforce a previously entered order.

Major changes can include an increase or decrease in the income of a parent, caused perhaps by the loss of a job, or the associated loss of medical insurance. The child may have needs that were unforeseen and unplanned for by the Court or the parties. In some circumstances, one parent wants to move out of state with the child. If a change in circumstances is such that it impacts the orders previously entered by the Court, a modification of those orders from the Court is necessary.

Attorneys at McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. can help you with modification and enforcement of orders.

Changes in income, whether up or down, may mean that the child support order needs to be modified. Child support modification> is not retroactive, so if you believe that a modification is warranted you should contact us as soon as possible. Do not rely on agreements that are not recognized by the Court as they are generally unenforceable.

Child support enforcement: We can help you enforce a child support order if you are not receiving payments which have been previously ordered. Also, if you are a non-custodial parent and you are behind on your payments, you should contact us to see what can be done about past due amounts.

Sometimes the custodial parent can no longer care for the child. In that instance, we can help you obtain a modification of the custody orders. Both parents may agree to change custody in certain cases, such as when they agree the child should attend a particular school where one parent lives. It is important to obtain approval from the Court when modifications of custody are agreed to. If a parent leaves the state or the country with a child in violation of the Court#39;s orders, talk to an attorney as soon as possible.

If alimony or maintenance payments are no longer needed, or if it is needed for longer than originally provided for by the Arizona Court, or if other issues affect the needs of one spouse, or the other's ability to pay the Court can modify an award of spousal maintenance.

If a party does not comply with the Court's orders related to the division of debt or property, we can help you petition the Court to enforce the prior orders.

Contact the law offices of McGuire Gardner P.L.L.C. for a free initial consultation by telephone to discuss modification or enforcement of your current court orders.

Our Divorce and Family Lawyer's Telephone Numbers:
East Valley (Mesa, Scottsdale, Tempe, Chandler, Gilbert) (480) 559-8101
Phoenix and throughout Maricopa County: (800) 899-2730
Flagstaff, Prescott, Verde Valley, and Northern Arizona: (928) 225 2597
Toll Free: (800) 899-2730

In addition to answering your questions about the law by phone, you may also contact us online or by email. We will promptly reply, scheduling your free initial consultation by telephone, provide driving directions or AZ maps to one of our offices right in your community, and assist you in scheduling a time for you to meet with any attorney to start your case.

Disclaimer: The information you obtain at this site is not, nor is it intended to be, legal advice. You should consult an attorney for advice regarding your individual situation. We invite you to contact us and welcome your calls, letters and electronic mail. Contacting us does not create an attorney-client relationship. Please do not send any confidential information to us until such time as an attorney-client relationship has been established.