Child Support FAQ

Read questions and answers about child support in Arkansas

Why do we need to have a child support order?

Parents have a financial obligation to support their children, and under Arkansas law when there is a divorce, legal separation, or if the parents were never married, this is accomplished through a child support order. The noncustodial parent or the parent that has a higher income in joint custody situations, makes regular child support payments to the custodial or other parent in order to meet that financial obligation.

If the divorce is uncontested, do we still need a child support order?

Yes; it is in the best interest of both the child and the parents to establish a child support order even if the divorce is not contested. If the parties do not initially take the initiative to establish child support, the court can establish child support on its own volition if it sees fit.

Can child support be determined through mutual agreement?

Yes—the parents may mutually agree on the amount of child support that should be set. However, that does not stop the court from being able to change the amount of child support to be more suitable or to be in line with Administrative Order Number 10.

What if the child’s mother has filed for child support, but I don’t think I am the father?

If the child’s mother has filed for child support and believes you are the father who would be paying it, but you are not convinced you are the father, you may seek out DNA paternity testing. This can be accomplished through Office of Child Support Enforcement or a Paternity action with private testing.

In order for the paternity test to be valid under Arkansas law, it must be performed by a certified lab rather than an at-home test and is typically completed through a cheek swab saliva test.

How do I know that the amount of the child support order?

Arkansas courts use charts, provided for under Administrative Order 10, as a guideline for determining child support and the noncustodial parent’s income. The guidelines do change over time so it is important to be aware of this as you, your attorney, the child’s other parent, and their attorney discuss how child support and other family law issues will be determined.

What is child support like if we share custody?

If the parties share true joint custody and have similar income levels, the Court may not require Child Support to be paid by either party. However, if there is a large income disparity between the parties, then the Court will typically perform an offset of Child Support. When this happens the Court considers each party’s income for child support purposes, and will offset the higher income by the lower income to determine the appropriate amount of Child Support.

Although the courts may deviate from child support guidelines on a case by case basis, including parental time sharing and other reasons for deviation, child support is based on income and the needs of the child.

What happens at a hearing for child support?

At a hearing for child support, the child support is calculated based on Administrative Order Number 10. The judge uses the guidelines to advise their decision-making.

However, he or she may take other factors into consideration if they feel the noncustodial parent should pay less or more based on those guidelines.

What if the other parent is not paying what the court ordered?

Under Arkansas law, child support can only be enforced once an Order for Child Support is filed with the Court. If the other parent is not paying the Court ordered Child Support, then you or your attorney can file a motion for contempt.

However, the court may also use other methods to attempt to collect Child Support such as an Income Withholding Order or Wage Garnishment. More severe penalties may follow if child support remains unpaid.

How do I change the child support order?

Child support orders may be changed if the paying parent’s gross income changes by 20 percent or more than $100 per month, or there is a material change in the child’s needs. The needs of the child and the ability of the noncustodial parent are the paramount considerations when setting and modifying child support.

Although this may be seem like a straightforward change, some parents may have multiple jobs or streams of income, and the courts can decide whether or not the change warrants a modification of the child support order based on this and other factors.

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What does the court do if the other parent is incarcerated?

A court-ordered financial obligation to the child does not stop simply because the other parent becomes incarcerated.

If they are unable to pay due to being in jail, then the child support accrues. Once the parent is released, child support collection efforts can proceed.

What if the Court records show that I owe more child support than I think I do?

If you believe you owe more child support than you should, contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss next steps. They can provide guidance on this and other issues related to family law.

If I’m being denied visitation, can I stop paying child support?

No, your obligation to pay child support does not stop even if you are denied visitation. Likewise, court-ordered visitation does not stop just because child support payments stop. Both parties must adhere to the Court’s orders. It is even possible in some instances related to custody that the noncustodial parent may owe child support even when the children begin to live with them.

For concerns about this and other child support issues in Arkansas, contact an experienced child support attorney at Destiny Law Firm.