How to Calculate Child Support Payments in Arkansas

Learn how to calculate child support in Arkansas, when the amount of support may be different than what’s calculated under the state’s guidelines, and how to apply for, collect, and modify child support.

By , Attorney · UC Law San Francisco

Arkansas has child support guidelines that parents and judges use to calculate the right amount of support in a particular case. The guidelines are based on the principle that children have a legal right to financial support from both parents.

How to Calculate Child Support Under the Arkansas Child Support Guidelines

To calculate the amount of support under Arkansas's current child support guidelines, you can use the official Arkansas Child Support Calculator. The calculator is based on Arkansas's child support guidelines.

Many factors affect the amount of child support awarded in Arkansas, including:

  • both parents' income
  • the number of children who need to be supported
  • the total number of overnights the children spend with each parent per year
  • work-related child care costs, and
  • health care and insurance costs.

Learn more about child support laws in Arkansas, including what gets counted as income when calculating support.

(Ark. Sup. Ct. Admin. Order 10, Ark. Code § 9-14-106 (2024).)

Are Other Child Support Calculators Accurate?

Watch out for websites with so-called child support calculators for Arkansas. Unfortunately, there's no guarantee that these calculators are accurate and up-to-date. Arkansas updates its child support guidelines regularly, and you usually can't tell whether any of these websites have kept up with the latest changes.

It's best to stick with the official state calculator to get the most accurate amount of child support you may pay or receive. Be aware, however, that this will be an estimate. As explained below, the judge may order a different amount in your case.

When Child Support May Be Different than the Guideline Calculation

Arkansas judges must order the guideline amount unless it's unjust or inappropriate. Circumstances that might justify a deviation from the guideline calculation include:

  • educational expenses (such as private school tuition or special education needs)
  • the cost of purchasing life, dental, or other insurance for the child's benefit
  • extraordinary travel expenses for court-ordered visitation
  • the child's significant available income
  • the creation of a trust fund for the child
  • the support given by a parent that isn't court-ordered
  • extra time the paying parent spends with the child
  • expenses related to other children living at home,
  • and other factors that warrant a deviation.

(Ark. Sup. Ct. Admin. Order 10, § II.2 (2024.)

How to Apply for Child Support in Arkansas

If you're filing for divorce in Arkansas, you can request child support as part of that process. You can—and parents often do you—agree on an amount of child support as part of a divorce settlement. You'll have to submit your agreement for a judge to approve.

You can also apply to establish child support through the Arkansas Office of Child Support Services (OCSE). If you aren't married to your child's other parent, OCSE can help you establish paternity and then apply for and collect support.

How to Collect Child Support in Arkansas

You can collect child support directly from the other parent or the Arkansas Child Support Clearinghouse (the "Clearinghouse") can process payments for you. Most support orders in Arkansas include an income withholding order, requiring employers to take support payments directly from the paycheck of the parent who owes support.

If you're having trouble collecting support payments, OCSE is responsible for enforcing child support orders. The agency has many ways to help collect support, including:

  • intercepting income tax refunds, workers' compensation, or unemployment benefits
  • seizing bank accounts
  • reporting the debt to credit bureaus
  • placing liens on real and personal property
  • license suspensions (including driver's, professional, and recreational), and
  • holding the parent who isn't paying in contempt of court.

How to Change the Amount of Child Support

Either parent can ask a judge to modify a child support order if circumstances have substantially changed since the last order. Most parents request a modification of support because their financial circumstances have changed. In Arkansas, a change of either parent's income—up or down—by 20% is a material change of circumstances.

You have a right to ask OCSE to review a support order every three years or when there's been a significant change in income of at least 20% per month. You might also ask for a review if one of your children emancipates or a parent is incarcerated for six months or more.

(Ark. Sup. Ct. Admin. Order 10, § II.1, Ark. Code § 9-14-107 (2024.)

Getting Help With Child Support

Calculating child support is complicated. Arkansas Law Help provides free information and resources on many legal topics, including child support.

If you and your co-parent can't agree on child custody, support, or both, you might need a lawyer's help. An experienced lawyer can answer your questions, help you negotiate an agreement that works for you and your child, and advocate for you in court if it comes to that.

Considering Divorce?
Talk to a Divorce attorney.
We've helped 85 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you