Parents have a fiduciary responsibility to support their biological and adopted children. Federal child support laws require each state to have laws and guidelines regulating child support. In Arkansas, these guidelines are outlined in Administrative Order No. 10 and administered by the Arkansas Department of Finance and Administration Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE).
In Arkansas, custodial parents, non-custodial parents, and non-parental guardians can all seek an Order of Support. You can establish a claim via a number of avenues, including:
- Obtaining an order of support as part of a divorce decree and parenting plan
- Hiring a lawyer to initiate a child support claim
- Contacting OCSE and applying for services and paying the $25 fee
Arkansas calculates support based solely on the income of the obligor parent. Income is made up of:
- Wages, salary, commissions, tips, or bonuses
- Disability or unemployment
- Worker's compensation
- Self-employment income
- Pension or retirement income
The state does allow certain deductions from income, including:
- Federal taxes
- State income tax
- Medical insurance for dependent children
- Court-ordered support for other dependents
Support is then determined based on the Arkansas Family Support Chart, which accounts for weekly, bi-weekly, or monthly income as well as the number of children. If a parent has income exceeding the amounts listed on the chart, support is imputed as a percentage of income:
- 15 percent for one child
- 21 percent for two children
- 25 percent for three children
- 28 percent for four children
- 30 percent for five children
- 32 percent for six or more children
Self-employment income is imputed based upon the previous year's tax documentation. In some cases, income may also be imputed as being higher if the payer is voluntarily under or unemployed.
Health Care Insurance
Health care insurance requirements are issued with the order of support, but are considered separate from the support payment amount. Each parent may be required to provide health insurance if it is available at a reasonable cost.
In some cases, the court may allow deviations from standard support. Allowable grounds for deviation may include relevant factors such as food, shelter, clothing, education, health care costs, child custody arrangements, accustomed standard of living, educational costs, and work-related childcare.
Abatement for Extended Visitation
If the non-custodial parent enjoys a court-ordered institution of longer than 14 days, he or she may seek an abatement of support for that period, which will be pro-rated over the course of a year's payments.
Arkansas requires that all support modifications be signed by a judge. Either parent can request a review from the OCSE every 36 months. However, parents may request a review within the 36-month time limit if there is a change in the non-custodial parent's income of 20 percent or more than $100 per month.
Collection and Distribution
All child support payments are made through the Arkansas Child Support Clearinghouse. Payments can be made via payroll deduction, check, credit card, Western Union, or Internet. Custodial parents or guardians can receive payments via direct deposit or on a ReliaCard debit card.
Support terminates when the child turns 18 and graduates from high school, when the child becomes emancipated, or when physical custody changes. The non-custodial parent (payer) must seek to have payments terminated by contacting the Arkansas Child Support Clearinghouse.
For More Information
Further information about child support is available on the OCSE website, or contact an attorney who specializes in child support.