Catching up from last week: It drew little attention but the Arkansas Supreme Court last week approved new guidelines for setting child support payments in Arkansas.
The new rules won’t apply retroactively unless individual circumstances have changed and a court reopens a past judgment for reconsideration.
Child support rules have been evolving over the last 15 years or so with guidance from the federal government. Significantly. Arkansas now will follow, like most states, an income-shares model for setting payments. That is, it must take into account income from both parents. That could be considered before, but it was discretionary.
A study committee recommended the changes.
Judges may depart from guidelines in the chart but must have a good reason to do so. In general, the order says:
These Guidelines and the accompanying Worksheet assume that the parent to whom support is owed (payee parent) is spending his or her calculated share directly on the child. For the parent with the obligation to pay support (payor parent), the pro-rata charted amount establishes the base level of child support to be given to the payee parent. The base amount may, however, be adjusted to account for work-related childcare expenditures, the child’s share of the health insurance premium, out-of-pocket medical expenses exceeding $250.00 per child per year, the selfsupport reserve, or other factors a court determines to be in the best interest of a child or children.
The chart provides suggested monthly payments for up to $360,000 in income. Then a judge has the discretion to set higher amounts than the top figure in the chart ($1,952 a month for one child) for a couple with $30,000 monthly income.
Here’s the worksheet to be used in calculations: