Understanding the child support process in Arkansas

Child support in Arkansas is calculated using a percentage of the non-custodial parent’s income, and may be enforced if needed.

Children who are involved in an Arkansas divorce go through significant emotional and financial changes. Not only is it difficult for some children to adjust to a new environment and family situation after a divorce, but decreased finances can make it hard for the custodial parent to make ends meet. Arkansas courts establish child support orders in an attempt to lessen the financial burdens that stem from divorce. Child support also helps to ensure that children are able to enjoy the quality of life that they would have had if their parents had remained together. Parents going through a divorce or separation may want to know more about how child support calculation and enforcement in Arkansas works.

Calculating child support in Arkansas

Arkansas uses a chart to establish a child support obligation. The non-custodial parent's net (take home) income is applied to the chart, and that amount is almost always the amount the court sets. According to Arkansas statutes, wages, commissions, bonuses, salaries, retirement benefits and workers' compensation benefits are all factored into the income. The most common statutory deductions to determine net income include state and federal taxes, Social Security, Medicare, and health insurance paid on behalf of the children.

Each divorce case is unique and there may be other factors considered into calculating the child support amount, such as the assets and income available to the custodial parent (although it is fairly rare for this to affect a child support calculation), the needs of the children and other funds set up for the children. Generally speaking, however, child support is ordered based upon a strict application of net income to the numbers on the chart.

Child support enforcement

In Arkansas, the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) is responsible for enforcing child support orders and collecting delinquent child support from parents who are not making their regular court-ordered payments. The department is able to perform the following actions in an attempt to retrieve unpaid child support funds:

  • Intercept state and federal tax refunds
  • Freeze or take money from bank accounts
  • Withhold wages from paychecks
  • Deny passport applications
  • Report the delinquent payments to the credit bureau
  • Suspend professional, hunting, fishing and driver's licenses

The benefit of using OCSE is the fact that this agency has avenues of collection and enforcement that are not necessarily available to private attorneys. The down side of using OCSE is that having your case to go court and be resolved is often a very slow process. Using a private attorney generally speeds up resolution of the child support delinquency case.

Legal counsel may be necessary

People who are currently going through a divorce or have been through the divorce process before may understand the difficulties associated with the process. A family law attorney may be helpful in walking you through the emotional process, including calculating, modifying or enforcing child support orders.

Keywords: divorce, child support, delinquent, payment