parents discussing child support with joint custody

Do I Have to Pay Child Support If I have Joint Custody?

In Arkansas, joint custody refers to an arrangement where each parent shares substantial amounts of time with physical custody over their children. This arrangement allows both parents continuous as well as frequent interaction time with their children. The Arkansas Code Annotated empowers family courts in the state to award joint custody, but the guidelines make it clear that joint physical custody does not always mean that the parents will have equal amounts of time with the kids. Regardless, it seems that there has been a generally established, albeit misled, belief that having a joint custody arrangement in place means that there will not be any child support obligation in place. This, however, is not accurate. We will discuss why in more detail here.

Do I Have to Pay Child Support If I have Joint Custody?

To be clear, the Arkansas child support formula remains consistent whether there be a sole physical custody arrangement or a joint physical custody arrangement in place. Arkansas differs from many other states in the way that the state does not give any automatic parenting time credit to reduce a child support amount. In fact, the only way that parenting time can impact the child support payment amount you are obligated to pay or entitled to receive is if the family court decides that the reality of the visitations with the children are substantially in excess of those that are commonly approved by the court.

This means that there is a chance that more parenting time will mean a reduction in a child support payment obligation, but the court will only make such modifications on a case-by-case basis. It also means that your best chance at having an accurate child support order in place is by demonstrating the reality of the parenting time situation that is happening in your individual circumstances. You must be able to show that your parenting time far and away exceeds the standard for what your county’s courts would usually approve. This is because the law provides for courts deviating from standard child support guidelines in the event that the court finds “extraordinary time spent with the noncustodial parent, or shared or joint custody arrangements.”

Barring extraordinary circumstances, therefore, Arkansas courts do not account for parenting time in the child support calculation. Instead, child support is usually calculated using income only. In order for parenting time to become a factor, those extraordinary circumstances must be asserted. Most of the time, parenting time totals accounted for by the court are mere estimates. Because they are merely estimates, there can be major discrepancies between them and the actual parenting time arrangements. Accounting for the actual parenting time, however, can be a bit tedious and, thus, many times the inaccurate estimates stand. In order to assert that there should be a deviation from the calculated child support amount based on parenting time, you must be able to detail what parenting time actually looks like.

Jonesboro Family Law Attorney

Do you think that the calculated child support amount should be modified? Talk to The Law Office of Bryce Cook about your options. Contact the Law Offices of Bryce Cook today.