Parents who don't live with their children (who are under 18 years old) still have a legal obligation to financially support them. The amount of child support that the non-custodial parent (the parent who isn't living with the children) is required to pay is determined on a state-by-state basis. In Arkansas, a non-custodial parent's support obligation is calculated by using the state's Child Support Guidelines (see Arkansas Rules and Administrative Order number 10).
There is a rebuttable presumption that a child support award based on the child support guidelines is the appropriate amount that should be ordered. However, the court has the power to deviate from the guidelines if there is evidence showing that the child(ren) need a different amount of support. When deciding whether or not to deviate, the court will strive to do what is in the best interest of the child, and will only deviate from the guidelines if the award resulting under the guidelines would be unjust or inappropriate.
Definition of Income
A parent's support obligation is based on their monthly income. The idea is for "income" to be a broad term in order to benefit the child. Under Arkansas' child support guidelines, income means any form of payment (for example wages, commissions, bonuses, worker's compensation, and interest) minus the following deductions:
Calculation of Support
The non-custodial parent's basic support obligation is calculated by using the most up to date Monthly Family Support Chart. This chart takes into account the parent's monthly income and the number of children provided for in the order. If the parent's income falls in between two of the income categories, then use the lower amount listed.
If the parent's income exceeds the income amounts listed on the support chart, then that parent's basic support obligation is calculated as a percentage of their monthly income according to the table below.
|Calculation of Support - Income Which Exceeds Chart|
% of the Parent's Income
One dependent: 15%
Two dependents: 21%
Three dependents: 25%
Four dependents: 28%
Five dependents: 30%
Six dependents: 32%
How is child support calculated if the non-custodial parent is unemployed or underemployed? In these situations the court may consider whether the parent is underemployed as a matter of choice or not. If the court determines that the parent is working below their full earning capacity without reasonable cause, the court may impute income to the parent.
State laws change frequently. For case specific information regarding Arkansas' child support guidelines contact a local family law attorney.
Contact a qualified attorney.