Child Support FAQ

Child support obligations can be somewhat confusing. Why is it ordered? Who is it paid to? Who can recieve it?


What follows are a few frequently asked questions concerning child support and brief answers that we hope help you better understand child support.

What is Child Support?

Parents have a moral responsibility to take care of their children; they also have a legal duty to make sure that their child’s needs are being met. Shelter, food, and clothing are among the top priorities.   When a relationship between two adults fails, many times it is the child that suffers the most. Regardless of the romantic relationship status of the parents, the parents are expected to take care of the needs of their children. Child support is an order by the Court for one parent to make regular, monetary payments to another parent for the financial support of the child.  Guidelines concerning child support are set forth in state law to protect the rights of the child.


Who has to pay child support?

In order to make sure that a child’s life is maintained after a failed relationship, child support payments help the custodial parent continue to provide for that child.  Child support is not just limited to divorced parents. Any non-custodial parent can be ordered to pay child support. Marriage has nothing to do with the order.  


What determines which parent is the custodial parent?

The custodial parent is the one that has physical custody of the child and takes care of his/her daily obligations and needs.  


Who oversees child support in Arkansas?

Child support is Court ordered, and, therefore, the Court will enforce child support orders. In Arkansas, payments may be facilitated by the clearinghouse of the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE).  The amount to pay and how it should be paid is controlled by the particular language in a Court order in a case.


How is the amount of child support determined?

States use a formula to determine the amount of child support.  There are also specific guidelines on how the court determines income available for support. The court will use these scales to determine the amount of support that is ordered.  Courts usually consider medical support allocations in the child support order. In some cases, both parents may share the health care obligation. In light of certain circumstances, the court may make adjustments to amounts ordered. However, in Arkansas, Court ordered child support must be in accordance with the state guidelines unless the Court makes a specific finding otherwise and gives the reasoning from straying from the state guidelines.


Can I stop paying my court-ordered child support if the custodial parent denies my visits?

You absolutely cannot stop paying your child support obligation if you are denied visitation with your child.  If you are being denied court ordered visitation, contact a lawyer to develop a course of action to address the custodial parent’s failure to abide by a visitation schedule. If you simply withhold child support payments, you are in contempt of Court and the custodial parent’s actions of withholding visitation are irrelevant to your being in contempt or Court.


Can I stop visitation with the non-custodial parent if they stop paying court-ordered child support? 

You absolutely cannot stop visitation rights with the non-custodial parent if he or she stops paying child support. If your child is not receiving Court ordered child support, you should contact a lawyer to make sure your child support obligations for your child are being met.

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