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State Supreme Court issues new child support guidelines

On Behalf of | May 16, 2020 | Firm News

The Arkansas Supreme Court has issued new rules that implement an income-sharing model for calculating child support payments.

This model demands that both parents’ incomes factor into child support calculations.

Parents complete a worksheet to calculate presumptive support payments

The Supreme Court provided a detailed worksheet to guide parents through child support computations. These guidelines suggest monthly payments based on the parents’ respective incomes, child-rearing expenses and the number of children in the family.

Based on this information, a judge sets the pro rata share that each parent must pay. The guidelines assume that parents receiving support are spending their share for child-rearing expenses. For parents who pay support, their allocable share represents their baseline financial obligation. A judge may make adjustments for costs like health insurance premiums, out-of-pocket medical expenses and work-related childcare.

Judges have discretion

In its Revised Administrative Order No. 10, the Arkansas Supreme Court explained circumstances that may allow departure from the guidelines:

  • If one parent pays both spousal support and child support, the income attributable to each parent may reflect an adjustment for alimony.
  • If parents have a shared custody arrangement that gives each of them overnight responsibility for their children for at least 141 nights each year, a court may modify the child support obligation.
  • Parents who are self-employed or own a business may have fluctuating income and expenses. A court may review business, accounting and tax records to confirm and modify income calculations.

This ruling makes this new model mandatory for all child support orders entered after June 30, 2020.