When Arkansas parents separate or divorce, a child support order ensures that the children continue to receive the financial support they need to meet their personal needs and benefit from opportunities that would have been available to them had their parents stayed together.
Although an essential arrangement, child support is an aspect of divorce that raises the most issues. Which parent pays and how much? And above all, how is it calculated? The enactment of Administrative Order No. 10, which governs all child support orders entered after June 30, 2020, has created additional questions, which we shall answer in this blog.
THE INCOME SHARES MODEL EXPLAINED
Under the Income Shares Model, the court combines the incomes of the custodial and non-custodial parents to determine how much the child needs to meet their basic expenses. As an example, Administrative Order 10 specifies that if you and the other parent have a monthly income of $3,000 and one child, the recommended support amount is $469 per month.
Prior to the enactment of Administrative Order No. 10, the noncustodial parent would have been responsible for the entire amount. Now, the courts look at your respective incomes and assign a percentage. If you earned $1,500 of that $3,000 and the other parent earns $1,500 (in other words, 50-50), each of you generally pays $234.50 toward supporting your child.
When determining your income, the court will look at your pay stubs and deduct allowable expenses from your gross pay. They include:
- Federal and state income taxes
- Social Security
- Certain retirement withholdings
- Healthcare coverage for the child
- Any support payments you may be making for other dependents
Family Court judges have the discretion to grant more or less support if your circumstances call for an exception under Administrative Order No. 10. The guidelines they use for the exception will depend on how often the noncustodial parent is paid.
WHAT IF YOU HAVE JOINT CUSTODY?
In cases of joint or shared custody, where each parent has the child for at least 141 overnights per calendar year, the court may adjust the child support amount based on the time spent with each parent. Factors that may also be taken into account include:
- Any disparity between parental incomes
- If the disparity is over 20%, which parent covers expenses like clothing, school supplies, etc, the majority of the time.
DO YOU HAVE QUESTIONS ABOUT CHILD SUPPORT IN ARKANSAS?
If you are divorcing or separating from your spouse or partner in Arkansas, you’ll want to ensure that your children get the financial support needed to thrive. At OMG Law Firm, we can guide you through important family law issues like child custody and support so that your children enjoy both financial and emotional security going forward. To schedule a consultation, contact us to discuss your situation.