Children require considerable resources to live a good life. More often than not, the income of one person is not enough to adequately provide for a child. For this reason, child support laws have been passed to ensure that both parents of a child make financial contributions if they are separated, to ensure that the child receives proper care. The amount awarded varies vastly but still goes a long way to make sure the child gets at least slightly better living conditions. This article will provide some information on child support in the State of Arkansas.
The Child Support Application Process
The establish a child support case, the custodial party (parent or guardian) must first contact the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) and submit an application. This application is charged at $25 and opens up a new child support case. The fees are waived for certain custodial parties such as those receiving Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program or Transitional Employment Assistance benefits. The OCSE will then try to contact the non-custodial parent. If required, a paternity test may be conducted to establish the fact that the non-custodial parent being contacted is truly the father of the child. After all this is done, a court order is established and a monthly payment obligation is determined by the court. This is done based on factors like income and the number of children. Medical support payment may also be established via court order. Additional details on this process can be found at https://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/child-support/apply-for-services/.
How Do You Receive Child Support?
Custodial parents in Arkansas may choose to receive their child support payments in one of two ways. The first is the US Bank ReliaCard. This is a prepaid debit card that is loaded with the child support payments. The ReliaCard does not require that the parent open a bank account. The card can be used to make purchases or cash withdrawals once the funds are loaded onto it.
The next option is via direct deposit to a specified bank account. The custodial parent who is receiving payment can opt to get the money paid directly into their savings or checking account. To apply for this, the parent will be required to fill and submit an Electronic Deposit Application. However, the funds may not immediately become available for use, depending on the bank. If the direct deposit payment agreement is canceled or the bank closes the parent’s account, a ReliaCard will be issued to continue payments.
Maximum Amount Receivable as Child Support
Non-custodial parents in Arkansas who are ordered to pay child support do not all pay the same amount. Several factors are considered in determining the exact amount of child support to be paid by the parent. The state’s child support calculator takes into account details such as the number of children, the monthly income of the parents (custodial and non-custodial), the child’s health insurance costs, etc. This calculator gives an idea of how much to expect in child support payments. The calculator can be found at https://www.arcourts.gov/child-support-calculator/ChildSupp.html. The total income of the parents plays an important role in how much is required for child support. After this is determined, the non-custodial parent makes a percentage payment of the total cost, based on the percentage of his/her income in the total parental income. To see some sample child support calculations visit https://www.arcourts.gov/sites/default/files/formatted-files/child-support-sample-language-and-calculation-july-2020.pdf.
Enforcement of Child Support
The Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE), under the Department of Finance and Administration (DFA) is responsible for enforcing child support orders in Arkansas. The OCSE utilizes various techniques to ensure the collection of child support payments. The most common way to enforce child support payments when there is a default is to withhold the non-custodial parent’s wages and first deduct the arrears before releasing the rest. The OCSE also has the power to request that the licenses (driving, hunting, fishing, etc.) of the defaulting parent are suspended until they pay what they owe. Credit reports may also be made, tax refunds intercepted, vehicles seized and auctioned, insurance claims collected, etc. Court action may also be sought against the parent for defaulting on their child support payments. For further details, visit https://www.dfa.arkansas.gov/child-support/resources/faqs/enforcing-a-child-support-order/.