Every parent has a moral and legal duty to financially support his or her children. Most parents will do so willingly, but when parents who have been ordered to pay child support fail to live up to their obligations, each state provides ways to hold them accountable.
This article will explain how child support is enforced in the state of Arkansas. If you have additional questions about child support enforcement in Arkansas after reading this article, contact a local family law attorney.
You can't ask a court to enforce child support unless you have established court-ordered child support. There are a few ways to establish child support: you can agree with the other parent on child support and then ask a court to approve your agreement and issue an official child support order, you can hire an attorney to file a child support case on your behalf, or you can contact the Office of Child Support Enforcement (OCSE) to help you establish child support. Read the article "Child Support in Arkansas" for more information on establishing child support.
Once child support has been established, there are several ways that the court can enforce the child support award.
The court's main enforcement tool is a "contempt citation." If the parent paying child support falls behind, the court can hold that parent in "contempt," which means that a judge has concluded the parent disobeyed a court order.
A contempt finding can be very serious. Generally, when a parent is found in contempt, the court will order the parent to pay all past due child support. A judge may also order the parent to pay monetary fines and even serve jail time. Asking the court to issue a contempt citation against the other parent is the most direct way to address past due child support.
Besides contempt, courts have a number of other ways to deal with delinquent parents. Judges can issue any of the following orders:
You can seek any of the above remedies by by filing a motion (legal request) for contempt and asking a judge to address past due child support in whatever way best fits your situation. If you choose to represent yourself, you may find additional information about local rules and forms related to child support enforcement on your local court's website. You can find contact information for all of the Arkansas circuit courts here.
Alternatively, you can hire a private attorney to file for contempt on your behalf; if you can afford it, it may be more efficient to work with a local family law attorney, who is experienced in enforcing child support orders.
If you can't afford an attorney and you meet certain requirements, OCSE may be able to help you enforce your child support order. You can check to see if you are eligible for help from OCSE and apply for its services here.
Parents that fail or refuse to pay child support may face additional, more severe penalties besides those listed above.In Arkansas, parents that fall three months or more behind in child support payments can have their driver's licenses and license plates suspended by the Department of Finance and Administration. In addition, when parents owe $2500 or more in overdue support, they may have their passports revoked or denied.
Some additional, criminal penalties include:
If you have additional questions about enforcement of child support in Arkansas, you should speak with a local family law attorney.