Both parents, whether or not they remain married to each other, are responsible for the support of their children. In the state of Arkansas, as in most states, there are specific rules for paying child support, and for calculating the responsibilities of a parent who is divorced, separated, or single. Though is it possible for parents to enter into their own agreements regarding a payment plan, these agreements must still adhere to the minimum guidelines according to state law, and must meet the approval of the court. This is because the child support payments, and the rights to this support, belong to the child and not the parents. If you are going through a divorce and have questions about the law, don’t proceed without the help of a child support lawyer in Conway, Arkansas.
Calculating Child Support Payments in Conway, Arkansas
In general, the non-custodial parent is responsible for the payment of child support in Conway, Arkansas.
The Supreme Court of the state of Arkansas has set forth certain guidelines to all the lower courts in the state regarding the payment amounts in divorces and separations. The state of Arkansas determined the base amount for child support by taking a straight percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income after taxes (after some allowed deductions). Then, with the help of a child support lawyer in Conway, Arkansas, you can bring these details to the court, where your income will be interpreted broadly in order to determine the full range of resources that the child should have available to him or her. Both parents will need to complete an Affidavit of Financial Means in order to provide the court with full and complete documentation of your income.
The allowed deductions to your net income include taxes, Social Security and Medicare withholding, railroad retirement contributions, health insurance for the children, and any support paid by the non-custodial parent to other dependents in accordance with other court orders. After the non-custodial parent’s net income is determined, there is a rather simple formula and an easy to follow chart which determine the amount of child support which may be ordered. Typically, the amount revealed by the formula or chart will be the ordered amount, unless additional circumstances or considerations cause a judge to modify the amount.
Health Insurance for Children and Child Support Payments in Conway, Arkansas
The courts in Arkansas typically include healthcare provisions in payment orders, as long as coverage is available at a reasonable price. Both of the parents will typical share the costs of this health insurance, in addition to the costs associated with non-covered medical expenses.
Earning Income and Child Support Payments in Arkansas
While child support payment amounts are determined by percentage of net income, refusing to work will not free a parent from the responsibility of child support. The court will consider the parent’s reason for unemployment or underemployment, and this court may decide to arbitrarily assign a net income based upon this person’s capacity to earn income. Usually, the court will input those earnings at minimum wage, unless there is evidence of a greater capacity or skill level. Your child support lawyer in Conway, Arkansas can explain in more detail.
Exceptions to the Rules in Arkansas
There is a presumption that the dollar amounts found on the child support payment charts are appropriate amounts. In some cases, a judge may find these amounts inappropriate or inadequate for a variety of reasons relating to the circumstances of the case. There are several factors that the court may consider in making these adjustments. The charts, for instance, are based upon a more or less traditional arrangement for custody, with visits every two weeks, and a longer period of time during the summer.
With the help of your child support lawyer in Conway Arkansas, you may be able to convince the court to deviate from the existing guidelines, especially if the parents are exercising joint custody of the child, or if the non-custodial parents is extending visitation times beyond the normal length. If the judge does deviate from the established guidelines for making payments, the judge must record their reasons in writing.
Enforcing the Rules in Arkansas
The office of Child Support Enforcement, appropriately enough, is the agency tasked with enforcing the state’s guidelines. This organization is a division of the state Department of Finance and Administration, and works to help families get orders for payment of child support, to locate parents when they vanish, establish paternity via tests when necessary, and to ensure that everyone and everything complies with existing child support law in Arkansas.
Discuss Your Legal Options with an Arkansas Family Law Attorney
If you are going through a divorce and think you may need to pay (or collect) child support, contact Denton & Zachary today.