When married parents divorce or unmarried parents separate, their obligations to their minor children do not change. Both remain responsible for meeting the child’s needs and ensuring the child maintains a stable standard of living. In order to protect the child’s best interests, the non-custodial parent typically must make ongoing payments to the custodial parent.
In Arkansas, child support is calculated by a set of guidelines that take into account:
- Both parents’ income
- The cost of the child’s health insurance
- The cost of childcare expenses
- Any extraordinary medical needs the child may have
Child support cases are typically straightforward, but non-standard circumstances may warrant legal intervention. Such circumstances include:
- One parent hiding or underreporting income to avoid paying support or to unfairly increase the other parent’s financial obligation
- One parent failing to make support payments
- A child who has suffered an injury or has a medical condition that results in extraordinary medical needs
When addressing any child support issue, the court’s main consideration is protecting the best interests of the child. Judges have discretion to deviate from guidelines when a by-the-book ruling will adversely affect the child.
Changes in Arkansas laws
Recent changes in Arkansas child support laws may affect your specific circumstances. Under the new income shares model, both parents’ incomes are taken into account when calculating support. If your support arrangement hasn’t been updated in a while, you may wish to explore the possibility of seeking a modification to benefit from the changes in the law.
Support obligations are never set in stone. When circumstances warrant, either parent may seek a modification to existing orders. Whether you want a modification or you are trying to stop one you feel will negatively affect you and/or your child, an experienced family law attorney can help you navigate this complex legal terrain.