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Legal Memorandum: Basis of Child Support Amount in AZ

Issue: Should a trial court base a child support amount on a father’s income over the past three years in Arizona?

Area of Law: Family Law
Keywords: Child support amount; Father's income over past three years
Jurisdiction: Arizona
Cited Cases: 801 P.2d 495; 946 P.2d 1291; 156 P.3d 1140; 215 Ariz. 35; 97 P.3d 876; 129 Ariz. 51; 916 P.2d 504; 35 P.3d 89; 185 Ariz. 314; 975 P.2d 108; 49 P.3d 300; 628 P.2d 599; 188 Ariz. 333; 935 P.2d 911; 209 Ariz. 51; 193 Ariz. 518; 166 P.3d 929; 908 P.2d 1086
Cited Statutes: None
Date: 08/01/2008

See In re Marriage of Robinson, 201 Ariz. 328, 331, 35 P.3d 89, 92 (Ct. App. 2001) (court reviewed de novo whether the trial court correctly included vested stock options in definition of “gross income” under Guidelines).  When presented with a mixed question of law and fact, the Court of Appeals accepts the trial court’s findings of fact unless clearly erroneous, and draws its own legal conclusions from the facts found or implied.  Burnette v. Bender, 184 Ariz. 301, 304, 908 P.2d 1086, 1089 (Ct. App. 1995)

Arizona law is absolutely clear “that a parent’s child support obligation is paramount to all other financial obligations.”  Little v. Little, 193 Ariz. 518, 520, 975 P.2d 108, 111 (1999).  See also id. at 522, 975 P.2d at 112 (the obligation to pay child support is primary under Arizona law).  The law also is clear that a child support order “need not be limited to one‑half of the noncustodial parent’s disposable income,” but consideration may be given to the noncustodial parent’s “financial resources” as well.  Fuentes v. Fuentes, 209 Ariz. 51, 54, 97 P.3d 876, 880 (Ct. App. 2004). 

The Court of Appeals has held that “the court need not restrict its view of the evidence to a few isolated months” when determining current income.  Pearson v. Pearson, 190 Ariz. 231, 236, 946 P.2d 1291, 1293 (Ct. App. […]

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