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Arkansas Child Support Guidelines
Inside or outside of the setting of a divorce, child support will ordinarily be awarded to the custodial parent and paid by the non-custodial parent. It is important to remember that child support is not extra money for the parent to spend but money to care for the children. It is, in essence, the children’s money, even though they do not spend it on their own.
In determining the appropriate amount of child support in Arkansas, the court will look to the state guidelines. These guidelines, which are housed in Order 10 of Arkansas Family Law, are referred to as a “rebuttable presumption.” In other words, the court will presume the appropriate amount to be paid is that listed in the guidelines, unless the parents argue otherwise.
The guidelines are essentially a chart that provides the amount of child support appropriate given the paying parent’s income and the number of children involved. The court will calculate all income and how often the parent receives income and arrive at a figure based on that income and the number of dependent/minor children by the parent.
Parents are allowed to agree to a figure outside of the guidelines, and the court will give this due consideration in light of the best interests of the children. When an order is finalized, it is binding until each child ages out (usually at 18 years) or until it is modified by the parents through another court order. A skilled attorney can help you understand these guidelines and work through the amount that will likely be awarded in your case.
When Income Exceeds the Arkansas Guidelines
In some situations, the paying parent has income in excess of the state guidelines. If this is the case, the court will use a formula to calculate the appropriate amount. This will usually begin with the guidelines, take into account the income that is above the guidelines, and calculate a percentage of additional money to be paid based on the number of dependent/minor children.
The formula can be quite difficult to configure, but a family law attorney will assist you with the numbers and help you gain an expectation of the likely amount in your case. Hiring a seasoned attorney will be extremely important if you suspect your spouse is hiding income or being untruthful about all sources of income. The Rees Law Firm will make sure all income is considered and that you and your children receive the fairest arrangement possible.
Modification of Arkansas Child Support
In the event a child support agreement needs to be changed in Arkansas, the parents can either come to an agreement together or can return to the court. If the change is contested, the parent moving for the modification will need to argue and establish with the court that a change in circumstances has occurred such that the previous agreement is no longer appropriate or in the best interests of the children.
Just as children age, so does a support agreement. What was appropriate when your children were younger is likely not as workable when your children are older. Changes in income also can trigger the need for a support modification. For example, if the noncustodial parent receives an increase in income of 20 percent or more, the custodial parent can move to receive more of that additional income for the children.
Modifications can sometimes be even more contentious than the original support procedures. An attorney will help you sort through the requirements for modification and provide you with your options for gaining the full amount you and your children need.
Enforcement of Child Support Agreements in Arkansas (Nonpayment)
If the paying parent stops paying child support, is underpaying, or is not consistently paying, Arkansas law provides remedies for enforcement of the support agreement. The Arkansas Office of Child Support Enforcement provides methods for you to attempt to collect back support, and you can also turn to the court for enforcement of the child support order.
A court can find a parent in contempt for violating a support order, which can carry the consequences of fines and even jail time until the support has been paid. The court can also order garnishment of the parent. In so doing, money can be withdrawn from the parent’s bank account, money can be withheld from the parent’s income, or a lien can be placed on the parent’s real or personal property.
Arkansas courts and entities take nonpayment of child support very seriously. Our office does, too. If you need assistance with enforcement of a child support order and collection of past-due child support, contact the Rees Law Firm today. We will use all resources and tools available to secure the money you and your children need and deserve.
- Hal Rees
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The best lawyer in Jonesboro and surrounding area. Mark, you work for your clients and you treat them as if they are your only client. You are a blessing to anyone. Keep up the great jobSheri Seabaugh Prestidge
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Mark Rees is a terrific lawyer and went above and beyond for me each time I have used his services. He treated me as if I were family and was always straight forward with us. I would recommend him to anyone.Tonda Johnston Baxter