Calculating Child Support Through Mediation

Making a Parenting Plan

As mediators, we help work through all of the legal, financial, tax, and parenting aspects of divorce. During mediation, parenting arrangements (including legal decision making, time-sharing arrangements and child support) must be formulated1 for minor children. We also prepare a comprehensive Parenting Plan which includes provisions for child support payments, as well as the sharing of certain costs relating to the children, including uninsured medical services (co-payments, orthodontia, etc.) and extracurricular activities (sports, social clubs, etc.). Agreements concerning parental cooperation (communication, courtesy, etc.), substitute child-care providers, and joint access to school and medical records may also be included. Other agreements that could be included involve decisions made about life insurance and dependent deductions for state and federal income taxes.

As mediators, our job is to help you make fully informed decisions on your own. We do this by helping you communicate and negotiate effectively, by offering you different options and alternatives for resolving issues. We also provide you with legal, financial, tax, and other information. But you will make all of the decisions, including your Parenting Plan.

Anything you decide during mediation about your children is always what the courts call modifiable, meaning that it is always changeable based on a material change of circumstances. In other words, nothing is permanent when it comes to the decisions made about children. After all, as children grow older their needs change. So nothing decided during mediation is written in stone.

To modify one’s Parenting Plan or Child Support Agreement, the court would want to know what circumstances have changed. For example, the age of the children is certainly a circumstance that a court would consider in determining what’s in their best interests.

Arizona Child Support Calculator

The calculating process that usually takes place in mediation when child support and/or spousal maintenance are at issue, usually takes about an hour or so to complete, depending on the extent to which a couple discusses or argues about each item. However, this is a worthwhile investment of time because it provides couples with detailed information about how much it will cost to live in separate households – versus, for example, couples having to rely solely on court-determined Guidelines for child support that are based on gross income and generalized economic data.

Many couples discover that calculating expenses is often an eye-opening experience. It’s usually the first time they clearly realize the economic consequences of divorce. They now understand that choices must be made as to certain discretionary expenses, such as entertainment or travel. They may also encounter hard choices regarding income. Recognizing this, we encourage each party to prepare Income and Expense forms. This lets each party calculate his/her monthly expenses over the next year. The list of expenses is reviewed item by item and discussed. This exercise enables people to estimate how much it will cost to support themselves and their children in separate households.


1 The American Bar Association provides tables summarizing child support guidelines in all 50 states at www.americanbar.org

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