Parents have a massive responsibility for raising a child, both from a personal as well as a financial standpoint. When a marriage comes to an end, that duty can become even more challenging.

According to the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the cost of raising a child is more than $233,000. For parents who are the primary caregivers after divorce, child support becomes a vital resource.

Who is responsible for paying child support?

Support payments must usually be made in Arizona until a child turns 18 or graduates from high school. Special provisions extending payments can be ordered for children with special needs who remain dependent upon their parents for financial support.

You don’t have to be married to be responsible for paying support, and those ordered to pay include non-custodial parents, non-custodial adoptive parents, both biological parents and, in some cases, non-biological parents who have provided long-term support.

Obtain a court order

Under Arizona law, every parent has a duty to financially support their children until they reach the age of majority. It is in the best interest of the parent needing support to file as soon as possible. Help from an experienced family law attorney can be crucial for navigating this complicated process.

The U.S. Census Bureau estimates, nationwide, the average monthly child support payment is $430. However, individual payments are based on a complex formula, which includes both parents’ income, the amount of time they spend with their children, the children’s needs, whether joint custody exists and many other factors. A calculator is available from the Arizona Judicial Branch to estimate payments.

Making on-time payments is essential

The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services says that, as of 2017, past-due child support payments totaled $114 billion, making it one of the largest debts in the nation. There is no statute of limitations on past-due child support in Arizona, and judgments for collecting overdue payments do not expire. Interest on missed payments accrues at 10% per year when a parent receives a judgment.

Whether you are paying or receiving, determining child support and custody arrangements are vital steps in making sure your children’s needs are taken care of if you are divorcing or separating as a couple. Your lawyer can help you make sense of what can be a confusing and complicated process.