Family Law

How Do Arkansas Laws Determine Child Support?

To determine child support you can use the calculator below. Select or enter the appropriate information next to each statement. When you have completed the form, click on the calculate button to get an estimate of the amount of determined child support that the non-custodial parent will have to pay to the custodial parent in Arkansas.

Arkansas Child Support Calculator

You can use this calculator to determine the child support you should pay under Arkansas law. This calculator does not compute deviations when determining child support. You need to speak to a lawyer if you want to deviate.

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Explanation of the Calculator:

  1. Number of Children - this is the number of children you are calculating for one child support case. If you have other child support cases, that number goes under No. 8
  2. Frequency of Pay - this is how often you get paid
  3. Gross Income - this is your paycheck BEFORE deductions
  4. Federal Income Taxes Withheld - this the federal taxes deducted from your paycheck
  5. State Taxes Withheld - this the amount of state taxes deducted from your paycheck
  6. F.I.C.A and Medicare - this is the social security and medicare deducted from your paycheck
  7. Health Insurance (children only) - this is the amount of health insurance you pay for your children
  8. Court-ordered child support - this is other (not for the case you are calculating) child support you are ordered to pay - if you have two or more child support cases

Parents who don't have primary physical custody of their children still have a legal obligation to financially support them. Arkansas child support lasts until the child turns 19 or graduates high school, whichever happens first. That being said, a court can determine child support should be paid past that point in certain situations. 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 No. 10).

There is a rebuttable presumption that to determine 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. Here are some reasons you can deviate from the determined child support:

Standard Reasons to Deviate Child Support:

Food; Shelter and utilities; Clothing; Medical expenses;  Educational expenses; Dental expenses; Child care (includes nursery, baby sitting, daycare or other expenses for supervision of children necessary for the custodial parent to work);  Accustomed standard of living; Recreation;  Insurance;  Transportation  Expenses; and Other income or assets available to support the child from whatever    source, including the income of the custodial parent.

Additional Reasons to Deviate Child Support:

Additional factors may warrant adjustments to the child support obligations and shall include: The procurement and maintenance of life insurance, health insurance, dental insurance for the children's   benefit; The provision or payment of necessary  medical, dental, optical, psychological or counseling expenses of the children (e.g., orthopedic shoes, glasses, braces, etc.);  The creation or maintenance of a trust fund for the children; The provision or payment of special education needs or expenses of the child; The provision or payment of day care for a child; The extraordinary time spent with the noncustodial parent, or shared or joint custody arrangements; The support required and given by a payor for dependent children, even in the absence of a court order; and Where the amount of child support indicated by the chart is less than the normal costs of child care, the court shall consider whether a deviation is appropriate.

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:

  1. Federal and state income tax
  2. Withholding for Social Security, Medicare, and railroad retirement
  3. Medical insurance paid for dependent children, and
  4. Current court ordered support payments paid for other dependents

Imputed Income

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 under-employed 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. This means the court may make a parent pay based on what they could make, not based on what they do make.

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