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.
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.