Issues related to child support are among the most common faced by the domestic relations courts in Arkansas. Child support has been established by the Legislature in Arkansas, and has been calculated through formulas established by the Supreme Court of Arkansas.
Child support is based upon a payor’s net income. The courts have instructed us to deduct federal and state income tax withholdings, Social Security withholdings, Medicare withholdings and any amount spent by the paying parent for the kids’ health insurance from gross income to determine net income. In addition, any support for other children the paying parent may be ordered to pay is to be deducted from gross income in order to reach a net income for purposes of calculating child support.
Once we have a payor’s net income, we look to the Arkansas Family Support Chart to determine his or her support obligation. This chart is a matrix which gives an exact dollar amount of support owed for a given net income and a given number of children. For any net income that exceeds the amounts found on the chart (in excess of about $60,000 per year), the paying parent must calculate a percentage of his net income for child support. For one child, this amount is 15%. For two children, it’s 21%. The amount increases with each child from there, up to 5 children.
For payors who work on commission, or who are self-employed, it is sometimes very difficult to determine the appropriate amount of support.
Arkansas law requires that child support payments be made by payroll deduction through the Child Support Clearinghouse in Little Rock. The Clearinghouse is a state-run organization whose job is to record any payments it receives, and then send those payments on to the receiving parent. If you have been ordered to pay child support in the state of Arkansas and you don’t make those payments through the Clearinghouse, there is a very good chance that you won’t receive any credit for those payments. It’s always a good idea to make your payments through the Clearinghouse, and they have a website which allows you to make those payments online, if that’s a more convenient option for you.
In Arkansas, failure to pay child support is a crime, the seriousness of which (felony or misdemeanor) is determined by just how far behind a paying parent might be. In addition to the criminal aspects, enforcement of child support payments may also be made through a contempt action with the courts. The Office of Child Support Enforcement can help you with your case, or you can hire a private attorney to represent you in your efforts to enforce a child support order.
Judges have a number of options at their disposal to help with the enforcement of child support payments. Jail time, suspension of license and the seizure of assets (such as tax return refunds) are methods often used by the Courts to collect child support from parents who are behind in their obligations. We help individuals on both sides of these types of cases, and can usually negotiate settlements that will ensure that a paying parent stays out of jail (so that they can continue to work and earn money to pay support), or to ensure that a receiving parent gets the maximum amount of support for their family.
Child support issues can be very tricky to sort through, and they often require a creative approach in order to get a resolution that truly achieves what matters: the payment of child support. Rhoads & Armstrong can help. Please call 479-254-0135 for a free consultation or connect with us via our online contact form.