LITTLE ROCK -- For the first time in about 30 years, the Arkansas Supreme Court has reworked the way child support is determined by requiring both parents' incomes be considered by the court to decide how much the noncustodial parent must pay.
"This completely changes the way income is calculated," said attorney Angela Mann, chairman of the Arkansas State Bar Association's family law section. "It's going to be fairer."
The order revising the Child Support Guidelines of Administrative Order No. 10 was released April 2, and first reported by the Arkansas Times.
Taking effect July 1, the new method requires that judges figure child support through a formula that considers both parents' gross incomes, instead of just the net earnings of the noncustodial parent.
"[T]he concept [being] that children should receive the same proportion of parental income that they would have received had the parents lived together and shared financial resources," the revised guidelines state.
For the first time, that support formula also will take into account how much visitation the noncustodial parent receives, with more visitation generally expected to result in lower support payments, said Mann of the Mann & Kemp law firm of Little Rock.
The guidelines, based on state law, were first established in 1989, and Mann said there have been smaller changes over the years.
The high court's changes were based on the recommendations of the high court's Child Support Committee, mostly circuit judges and family law attorneys, that has spent years studying the child-support laws, Mann said. The new calculation plan reflects a national trend, using federal standards that most states have already adopted.
Members of the committee are Appeals Court Judge Brandon Harrison; Circuit Judges Douglas Schrantz of Bentonville, the chairman; Andrew Bailey of Mountain Home and David Clark of Conway. Also on the committee are State Rep. Charlene Fite of Van Buren and lawyers Allison Allred of North Little Rock; Johnnie Copeland of Mountain Home; Traci LaCerra of Little Rock; Mark D'Auteuil of Russellville; along with Michael Shone, a lawyer for the state Office of Child Support Enforcement and Brooke Steen, staff attorney for the Administrative Office of the Courts.
NW News on 04/10/2020