Raising a child is expensive. When parents decide to get divorced or separate, child custody and child support decisions can cause tension and division. Under Arkansas law, both parents are required to pay a fair portion of the expense of raising their child or children. Making decisions involving child support can become complicated. Anyone involved in a child support dispute should discuss their case with an experienced family law attorney as soon as possible.
Discuss Your Case With an Arkansas Child Support Attorney
If you are involved in an Arkansas divorce for child support dispute, attorney Bryce Cook can advocate for you to obtain a fair ruling in your case. He understands that these issues can be time-consuming and stressful. He will carefully listen to your concerns and walk you through the process, answering any questions you may have. You can rest assured that attorney Bryce Cook will work diligently to protect your interests. Contact the Law Offices of Bryce Cook today to schedule your consultation.
Recent Changes to Laws
In Arkansas, child support calculations have changed in recent years. Arkansas has become the 41st state to adopt the income shares model developed by the National Center for State Courts. Now, courts will calculate payments using a formula. The formula will take into account the incomes from both parents and child expenses. Previously, Arkansas family court judges would determine payment based on the payor’s income. With the new formula, judges will now consider the parent’s income who will be receiving child support.
This new law affects how individual payments should be calculated. However, if you already had a order in place when the new law was adopted in 2020, changes to your payments aren’t guaranteed. In other words, your payments won’t change automatically due to the new law. If the formula used under the new law would be beneficial to you, you have the option of filing a petition for a modification with the court.
Under the new law, the parents paying and the parent receiving child support have a right to file a modification. When a modification is warranted, the court will adjust the payment amount. As the new law considers the income of the parent receiving child support, the non-custodial parent who is paying child support may have a reduction or increase in his or her payments.
Calculating Child Support in Arkansas
In Arkansas, courts calculate child support according to guidelines set out in an order issued by the Arkansas Supreme Court. This order is called Administrative Order Number 10. The order incorporates multiple charts that set out amounts weekly and monthly based on the time the children spend with each parent and each parent’s income.
When courts consider child support, there is a rebuttable presumption that the amount that the court should award is the amount shown on the most recent version of the family support chart. When there is evidence that an exception exists, judges can grant more or less child support. The specific amount listed on the chart depends on how often the noncustodial parent is paid.
The court will consider each parent’s pay stubs. They will also deduct certain expenses from each parent’s gross pay, such as support payments for other dependents, medical insurance payments for the children, taxes, and Social Security and Medicare withholdings. Arkansas’ new income shares model supports the need for children to receive an equal share of income that they would have otherwise received if their parents were still married and shared the same amount of resources.
When Does Child Support End in Arkansas?
Under Arkansas law, certain events will end the collection of child support. For example, when a child turns 18 and graduates from high school, child support will end. Other circumstances that could lead to the court ending child support before the child turns 18 include the following:
- The child dies
- The child marries
- The child is declared emancipated by a court
Legal emancipation occurs when a court determines that the child is financially stable and living separately from his or her parents. When a child is emancipated, the court might determine that payments should continue depending on the circumstances. In some cases, a family court judge may decide that a parent must continue paying even after the child turns 18. These cases usually involve a child with disabilities who is unable to care for himself or herself independently.
Modifying Your Existing Order
Both parents have a right to petition the court to modify their existing order. However, the parent petitioning for modification needs to show that there has been a change in the paying parent’s gross income of 20 percent or more than $100 per month. When parents have various sources of income, such as investment portfolios or closely-held businesses, determining that the parent’s gross income has increased can be challenging.
Working with an attorney who has an in-depth understanding of Arkansas law can help you protect your interests. If you have questions about how Arkansas’ new law will affect your payments, Attorney Bryce Cook can help. He will carefully review your situation and help you understand how your payments may change and your legal options involving what you can do to make the change official under Arkansas law.
Contact an Arkansas Child Support Attorney Today
Disputes involving child support can quickly become complicated. Attorney Bryce Cook has the skill and experience needed to represent your interest and ensure that your case is resolved as favorably as possible. At the Law Offices of Bryce Cook, we represent parents seeking child support, those who are opposed to paying it, and individuals wanting to file a petition to modify their order. Contact the Law Offices of Bryce Cook today to schedule your initial consultation to learn how we can provide you with excellent legal representation.