Often during family law cases involving children, parents will argue over how the issue of child support and gross income should be resolved. When people live in separate households it is common for one parent to pay child support to the other.  Each State has its own method and guidelines for calculating child support.  In Arizona, child support is calculated pursuant to A.R.S. § 25-320 and the Arizona Child Support Guidelines.  Often people will argue over what the gross income of the parties may be for calculation purposes.    The Arizona Child Support Guidelines spends a significant amount of time defining what is included in the gross income of the parties and what adjustments should be made to a parent’s gross income for calculation purposes.  The problem is that people will read the beginning of paragraph A under the section regarding determining gross income, i.e. “Gross income from any source….”, but they do not read the entire paragraph or the other remaining sections of what may not be considered as gross income.   The issue of overtime often will arise in an argument as to whether or not that income should be included in the child support calculation.  Under the Arizona Child Support Guidelines, it states that “Each parent should have the choice of working additional hours through overtime or at a second job without increasing the child support award.”   The problem is that the next sentence is “[t]he court may, however, consider income actually earned that is greater than would have been earned by full-time employment if that income was historically earned from a regular schedule and is anticipated to continue into the future. “  These two conflicting sentences alone are one reason why people argue over this issue.   It is this language that, at times, will cause problems in calculating a parent’s gross income.   Attorneys and their clients should then turn to case law for guidance regarding these issues.  Often people get so caught up with the language of the Arizona Child Support Guidelines, they forget to access case law to assist them.  One case that is helpful in providing guidance in this situations regarding overtime and “full-time employment” is McNutt v. McNutt, 203 Ariz. 28, 49 P.3d 300 (Div. 1, 2002).

This blog should be used for information purposes only.  It does not create an attorney-client relationship with any reader and should not be construed as legal advice.  If you need legal advice regarding your own particular situation, please feel free to contact attorney Sheri D. Shepard at (480) 461-5332 or at www.udallshumway.com.