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Arkansas Child Support Chart Changes

Arkansas' Child Support Chart (actually called the Family Support Chart) has been updated.  The new chart became effective on May 3, 2007.

Interestingly, child support amounts in the lower half of the chart slightly increased while child support amounts in the upper half of the chart decreased.  I'm not quite sure how that happened.

Other Notable Changes

Administrative Order No. 10 provides various interpretations, guidelines, etc. regarding the chart and figuring net income for different types of pay (wages, salary, commissions, self-employed, etc.).  There are some interesting additions.

First, under Section III(b) Income Which Exceeds Chart, an example is given as to how to figure child support for a payor that has income which exceeds the chart.  We have long known that there are percentages applied for the number of children that are involved.  15% of the net income is used for one dependent, 21% for two, and so on.  But the example provided in this updated version of Administrative Order No. 10 clarifies how net income is to be calculated.  You do not take 15% (using one dependent for example) of the entire net income amount.  Instead, you go to the highest section of the chart, take that child support amount, and then apply the 15% to the amount above and beyond the chart and add them together.  For example, let's say a payor has a net income of $6,000 per month.  The Family Support Chart only goes as high as a net of $5,000 per month.  So for one dependent, child support would be $691 based on a net income of $5,000 per month.  Then, you take 15% of the amount over and above the chart - in our example that would $1,000.  15% of $1,000 is $150.  So the total child support amount for a payor that has a net income of $6,000 per month, and one dependent child, would be $841 ($691 + $150).  This is a much different result than if you simply took 15% of $6,000 per month - which would be a child support amount of $900 per month.

Second, some clarification is added to the self-employed payor paragraph.  Line 22 of the payor's tax returns (last two years) is to be used in calculating income.  A 2007 case is also cited as clarifying how to use the net worth approach in determining income.

Next, Section V. Deviation Considerations, a. Relevant Factors, has an added phrase to subsection 12 - "including the income of the custodial parent."  This clearly means that the custodial parent's income may be considered for purposes of deviating from the chart's child support amount.

Also to Section V., a new section (c. Application of Deviation Factors) is added which makes it clear that the deviation factors are to be applied to the noncustodial parent as well as the custodial parent. (In practice I have always argued this, but its good to have it as an official part of the Administrative Order.)

Here's the link to the new chart and Administrative Order No. 10...