How does the new Arkansas Child Support order change my current child support obligations?

The update to Arkansas Administrative Order No. 10 and what it means for you.

Arkansas has recently updated Administrative Order No. 10, a long-standing method and its corresponding chart which calculates child support obligations. The previous Administrative Order No. 10 calculation was based solely on the income of the non-custodial parent. If you are wondering what the difference is between the custodial and non-custodial parent, the non-custodial parent is the parent which has the children less than fifty percent (50%) of the time in the custody arraignment, and the custodial parent has the children the majority of the time (or least more than 50%). The old calculation did not take into consideration the income of the primary custodial parent. Many states across the nation have begun to change over to a method which considers both parents income and Arkansas’s new Order does just that.

Out with the Old and In with the New.

On April 2, 2020, the Arkansas Supreme Court issues their opinion titled In Re Implementation of the Revised Administrative Order No. 10. The new order shifts away from basing all child support obligations solely on the non-custodial parent’s income and instead is based on an “income-sharing” model. 

In this model, the income from both parents of the child or children are taken into account. First, the court must determine how much of your combined income the child or children need to meet basic costs of living. Let’s look at this a little closer. Say, you make $4,000 gross a month and your ex-spouse makes $2000 gross a month. The two of you have a combined gross income of $6,000. Next, you will look at the new 2020 Child Support Chart to find how much has been determined to be the child support obligation for each child. You can find the chart HERE.

So, let’s say that you and your ex only have one child together with a combined income of $6,000 a month. Per the chart, the child will need $815.00 per month to meet their basic needs. Your child support obligation will be based on your percentage of the $6000 monthly income you contribute. So, if you make up $4000 of the total $6000, then you are responsible for 66.66% of the $815.00 which would be $543.28 per month. The non-custodial parent makes a cash contribution to the custodial parent – child support – and the custodial parent pays her or his percentage directly toward the children’s needs.

The changes also include a method of calculating support in joint custody cases to provide uniformity across the state. In cases of joint or shared custody, where both parents have responsibility of the child(ren) for at least 141 overnights per calendar year, the court may consider the time spent by the child(ren) with the obligated party as a basis for adjusting the child-support amount. In particular, in deciding whether to adjust child support, the court should consider the presence and amount of disparity between the income of the parties, giving more weight to those disparities in the parties’ income of less than 20% and considering which parent is responsible for the majority of the expenses, such as routine clothing costs, costs for extracurricular activities, school supplies, medical expenses, child care expenses, and any other similar fixed expenses.

I Already have a Child Support Order Under the Previous Method, Can It Be Modified?

Normally, an Arkansas Court will not change a non-custodial parent’s child support obligation unless there has been a material change of circumstances. Arkansas law says that a change of 20% or $100 in income is a material change that will allow a modification of your child support obligation.

The Court’s changes to the child support guidelines has stated that an inconsistency between an existing child-support award and the amount of child support that results from applying the Family Support Chart based on the Income Shares Model shall be a material change of circumstances sufficient to support a petition to modify child support with some exceptions. All of this meaning that the revised Administrative Order No. 10 gives many people the opportunity to modify their child support obligations to better fit their situation. If you are wondering if this better fits your situation, go to the link above, calculate your support under the new income share model and compare it to what you are paying in now.

At Eason Law, we have helped many people navigate divorce and custody matters. Whether it be an initial divorce or modification of custody and child support obligations, we handle it all. If you need an experienced legal team to help you navigate your family law matters, call us today and let us help you through the process.

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