Child Support Attorney in Little Rock, Arkansas

According to 2019 data collected by KidsCount.org, 34% of all children in the United States live in single-family households, totaling 23,756,000. In Arkansas, the figure is 37% — or 239,000 children. The numbers are significant because many of these single-family households depend on child support payments to make things work.

If you’re a divorcing parent in Arkansas facing child support negotiations, or you’re divorced and a support arrangement is already in place that you wish to modify, you need to understand the laws regarding child support in the state.

For more than 20 years, the Scholl Law Firm has been helping families with a variety of issues — including child custody and child support — in and around Little Rock and Conway, Arkansas. Attorney Scott A. Scholl is ready to advise and guide you in setting up or modifying an existing child support arrangement.

Child Support in Arkansas

According to Administrative Order 10 (modified and effective from July 2020), Arkansas law on child support is based on “the concept that children should receive the same proportion of parental income that they would have received had the parents lived together and shared financial resources.” In other words, child support payments are based on the best interests and welfare of the child or children involved, and not on the custodial parent’s personal needs or wants.

A parent’s income for computing child support is derived from all sources of income, including wages, commissions, self-employment earnings, pensions, disability payments, and investment income. Deductions for income taxes, Social Security, Medicare, and medical insurance payments for dependent children are allowed before both the payor and payee’s income are entered into a state-sanctioned Child Support Calculator, which will determine the applicable income for both parents.

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This income is then used to determine monthly obligations using the state’s Family Support Chart. For instance, a couple whose combined monthly income is $2,000 would warrant a payment of $323 a month for a single child, up to $765 for six children. Child support will ordinarily be awarded to the custodial parent and paid by the non-custodial parent.

This is important to bring up because not all child support arrangements are determined by family court proceedings. If the divorcing couple can work out their own arrangement, they can submit it to the court for approval, but their incomes will still be run through the Child Support Calculator and compared to the Family Support Chart. If the proposed arrangement falls short of the calculator’s determination, it will likely be disapproved or modified.

Modifying Existing
Child Support Arrangements

Arkansas law allows modifications to existing child support arrangements every three years, or when there is at least a 20% (or $100 per month) change in the non-custodial parent’s gross income. A parent can also request a modification if there has been a substantial change in circumstances since the current arrangement took effect. Such changes may include a child’s education or medical needs, the remarriage of one parent, a significant increase or decrease in one parent’s income, the relocation or incarceration of one parent, or the emancipation of a child.

Requests for modification have to be submitted to the court for approval. The burden of proof rests with the petitioning parent.

Note that if one parent decides to voluntarily limit his or her income to reduce or evade a child support payment obligation, the court can use what is called “imputed income” — based on that parent’s reasonable earning capacity — to enforce payment.

When Does Child Support End?

Generally speaking, child support payments end when the child turns 18 years of age. If the child is still in school, however, the arrangement will extend until graduation or the close of the school year when the child is 19 years of age, whichever is earlier. The arrangement also ends if the child marries, dies, or is emancipated by the court.

Choosing an Experienced
Family Law Attorney

Even though Arkansas relies on state-ordered income calculations and family support payment computations, family courts hearing child support cases have some latitude to deviate from the guidelines based on the situation at hand. For instance, if there is joint physical custody, or if the non-custodial parent spends an extraordinary amount of time with the child or children, the court can take these factors into consideration in setting child support obligations.

Whether you and your spouse are working on your own child support arrangement — or you’re appearing in court to defend your own best interests — you’re going to need the services of a knowledgeable, experienced, and compassionate (but tough) child custody attorney. Likewise, if you have reason to modify an existing arrangement, presenting a solid rationale and justification to the court is not something you want to attempt alone. You’ll need legal counsel to help you draft a petition that can potentially sway the court.

Child Support Attorney Serving Little Rock, AR

If you’re in any of these situations — negotiating with your spouse, going to court to determine child support, or petitioning for a modification — rely on the Scholl Law Firm. Reach out to attorney Scott A. Scholl to schedule a free consultation. The Scholl Law Firm proudly serves clients in and around the Little Rock and Conway, Arkansas areas.