When it comes to child support, there's an easy way to calculate it and a difficult way. Three methods exist and most states elect to use one – the income shares model, which is the difficult method. Arkansas uses the percentage of paying spouse's income model instead. This makes it comparatively simple to estimate how much child support you'll have to pay if you're facing divorce.
Percent of Income Model
The percentage of obligor's income model takes only one parent's income into consideration – the one who does not have custody of the children. If you're not the custodial parent, the court will assign a flat percentage of your pay to your children, and the percentage doesn't change regardless of how much or how little your ex-spouse earns. The percentage increases with each additional child you must support.
Arkansas bases child support on your net pay, the amount that remains after you subtract state and federal taxes and the costs of insurance coverage you pay on behalf of your children. If you're supporting more than one family, such as children from a previous relationship, you can also deduct the amount of the other child support order. After you determine your net pay, you can locate the number on any one of the state's Family Support Charts, available online. Arkansas offers several charts to correlate to your personal pay cycle. For example, if you're paid weekly, there's one for weekly support amounts, and if you’re paid twice a month, there's one for semimonthly support amounts. You don't have to estimate your support obligation as long as your income falls into the parameters set by these charts. They'll tell you exactly how much your support obligation will be.
Number of Children
The percentage of your pay that goes toward support increases with each additional child you have. For example, if your net pay is $800 a week and you have one child, you'll pay $131 in child support, approximately 16 percent. If you have three children, this increases to about 27 percent, or $217. The charts accommodate incomes from $5,200 a year if you're paid weekly to $60,000 a year if you're paid monthly, and families up to five children. If your personal situation doesn't fall within these guidelines, you'll have to do a little math.
Arkansas' chart for weekly pay periods tops out at $52,000 a year, or $1,000 a week. If your net pay is $1,100, you can estimate your child support payment by multiplying the overage by a certain percentage that depends on the number of children you have. For example, if you have one child, it's 15 percent. Your child support obligation would equal the amount on the chart for an income of $1,000 a week, plus 15 percent of the extra $100. Child support for one child at a net income of $1,000 a week is $149, so you'll pay $164 – $149 plus $15. Arkansas courts typically order child support according to these guidelines, but judges are permitted by law to deviate from them if circumstances warrant it. If your child is disabled and there are additional costs associated with her well-being, your order can be more. If you share physical custody with your spouse so your children spend a great deal of time with you, your child support order may be less. Guidelines are exactly what they sound like – they apply in the absence of extraordinary circumstances.