Arkansas Child Support
Applying for child support can feel like an intimidating process, especially if you haven’t gone through it before. But the Arkansas child support system includes a few relatively simple processes to determine when child support can – or must – be collected, as well as the amount of each child support payment.
Any parent or legal guardian can file for child support with the Arkansas Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE). If the custodial parent is receiving state assistance, they will automatically be referred to the OCSE and compelled to cooperate in its collection. But you don’t have to be receiving assistance to be eligible for child support payments.
The amount that you will pay or receive in child support is calculated according to the non-custodial parent’s income, pay schedule and the number of children being supported – among other factors. This amount can be adjusted if there are extenuating circumstances that make it impractical or unfair. The judge can raise or lower the child support payment if he or she is presented with just cause – the non-custodial parent also pays for daycare or a nanny, for example.
Arkansas child support ends at the age of 18 in most cases, and the non-custodial parent can stop making payments without having to take any additional legal action. Before you stop making you child support payments, however, you may wish to speak with an experienced attorney to ensure you understand your legal rights and obligations.
“What if I’m not receiving my child support payments?”
If you aren’t receiving the child support payments you are entitled to, or if you need to establish a child support order, an experienced Arkansas child support attorney can help answer your legal questions and get you the financial support you’re due.
There are a variety of steps you can take to obtain or change a child support order. You may need to establish paternity, locate the non-custodial parent, obtain medical insurance coverage for your child or collect support payments. A family law attorney can provide the legal support you need to reduce the emotional and financial stress you feel around establishing and collecting child support payments. If the non-custodial parent is not cooperating with the court ordered child support, he or she may be subject to income withholding or, in some cases, jailed for contempt of court.
Additional resources and support can be found at the OCSE at a reduced rate for individuals receiving state assistance, but it is important to note that the OCSE does not provide legal representation for either individual and you may still benefit from a professional attorney.
“What if I can’t make my child support payments?”
If you are unable to make your child support payments due to a reduction in your income, the court can revise the child support order to account for your new circumstances. But there are a few limitations as to how the order can be adjusted. If you elect to earn less money for a cause the court doesn’t determine to be reasonable, you may be accountable for your earning capacity rather than your current earnings. For a single child, support payments often range from 15 to 26 percent of your weekly income. And child support payments are based on an income of at least minimum wage, even if you are earning less right now.
Late child support payments are regularly reported to credit bureaus, and your credit rating can take a very serious hit if you are consistently unable to make your payments. To help enforce the child support order, you may have payments withheld from your income, and refusal to pay could result in contempt charges and possible jail time.
If you are struggling to make your child support payments, or if you believe you may be facing a contempt of court charge for late payments, you might benefit from a consultation with a professional child support attorney.
Child Visitation & Child Support
Child visitation and child support are not dependent on one another in the state of Arkansas. This means that if the custodial parent is not providing the agreed upon visitation, child support cannot be withheld. Conversely, if the non-custodial parent fails to pay child support, he or she cannot be denied visitation. If the other parent is not keeping to the court ordered child visitation schedule and/or child support agreement, you can file a motion for contempt to try and enforce the court order.
If you would like to learn more about Arkansas child support laws or if you are struggling to make or receive child support payments, you may wish to speak with an experienced family lawyer. Attorney Ben T. Roberds has represented clients in all matter of family law, including divorce, custody, visitation, child support and contempt. To schedule a confidential and complementary consultation, contact the Roberds Law Firm at (479) 464-0904 today.