Everything you need to know about Child Support Laws in Kentucky, updated for 2020.
Kentucky child support laws base parental financial support share on the incomes of both parents, thus parenting time does not figure into the state’s formula.
Part of the reason for that is, the courts/law assumes that the custodial parent spends his or her share directly on the child. What does this mean for the non-custodial parent? And how does the judge establish child support?
Let us find out.
How is child support calculated in Kentucky?
In Kentucky, ‘income’ refers to gross income or any payments received from any source. Consequently, when deciding child support, the judge will consider the parent’s wages, pensions, bonuses, commissions, severance pay, annuities, disability, insurance, and so on.
For self-employed parents, income includes rent, royalties, joint ownership, and all other sources.
When deciding child support, the judge or enforcing body follows the steps below:
- Establish a combined parental gross income.
- Use the basic child support obligation table to determine parental share.
This tells us that it is up to the judge to decide how much you will pay. However, the government provides a calculator that you can use to estimate your obligation. Note, the estimates are based on the information you provide. Thus, the figure is not always accurate. Why do I say this?
Although the judge typically follows the state’s formula. If he or she finds that the amount generated is not fair or in the best interest of the child. The judge has the authority to deviate.
That raises the question.
What factors influence child support in Kentucky?
Factored into your monthly child support obligation, are factors including:
- The number of children subject to pending action.
- Gross monthly income (s) of both parents.
- Work-related child-care costs such as daycare.
- Cost of family health insurance.
- Amount of alimony paid by the custodial parent from a previous marriage.
- And the amount of alimony paid by the non-custodial parent.
What is the minimum child support in Kentucky?
Kentucky child support laws pin minimum child support at $60 per child if the parents have joint legal responsibility. For higher-earning parents, the state’s child support guidelines say, quote:
“The court may use its judicial discretion in determining child support in circumstances where combined adjusted parental gross income exceeds the uppermost levels of the guideline table.”
See pdf attached for the full table and calculations. Below is a snippet of Kentucky’s child support worksheet to aid your estimation.
Kentucky child support worksheet
How is child support calculated when a parent is unemployed?
If the parent is ‘voluntarily unemployed’, the court assumes that you can make payments. Hence, your parental obligation will be calculated based on the “determination of potential income.”
This rule does not apply if the paying parent is caring for a child below 3 years of age, or is mentally or physically incapacitated.
Note that the court might find you voluntarily unemployed without finding that you intended to avoid or reduce your parental financial obligation. So, consult with a family court attorney if you are unemployed or underemployed.
Calculating child support in split custody arrangements
Under state law, here is how to calculate child support.
- Each parent prepares the worksheet linked above.
- The non-residential guardian with greater monthly obligation pays the difference between the obligation amounts.
In other words, the higher-earning parent often pays more.
But remember, state law requires the judge to designate a primary caregiver even if parenting time is shared.
How to enforce child support in Kentucky
The CSE (Child Support Enforcement program) is Kentucky’s child support enforcing body. The agency provides services including child support application, support estimation, payment collection, and general service to custodial and non-custodial parents.
So, either call this number (800)248-1163 or visit the website for further assistance.
Modifying child support in Kentucky
In Kentucky, parents can petition the judge for modification if a “material change of circumstances” occur. What does this mean?
A material change in circumstances refers to any situation that may increase or decrease the parent’s support obligation by 15%. For example, a better paying job, unemployment, or a disease that hinders your earning capability.
Whatever you are going through, the court allows either parent to send a written request for a review of the order for possible modifications. I say “possible” because it is up to the judge to decide to allow or deny modification requests.
To increase your odds of a successful modification, you must demonstrate to the court:
- The amount ordered is unreasonable.
- You lost your job involuntarily.
- That the paying parent now makes more than he or she did previously.
- A child has developed some form of physical or mental disability.
Note that if you reach an agreement with your ex or if you settle on a payment plan. You will not have to go to court, whereas, failure to reach an agreement will prompt the judge to make one for you.
To begin the modification process, here is what to do:
- Submit a written request to the local child support office.
- Along with your written request, include income information such as pay stubs, tax returns, daycare expenses, etc.
- Demonstrate to the court or enforcing body the change in circumstances in question.
On the other hand, if a modification is unfair to you, you can petition the court to reverse it. So, consult with a family court attorney.
Does child support end if I go to jail?
No, child support is the legal obligation of both parents whether incarcerated or free. That means you will either continue paying after release or develop a payment plan.
The point is, if you go to prison or if you lose your job, contact CSE, your attorney, or the courts and inform them about your situation.
What happens if you do not pay child support in Kentucky?
Under Kentucky child support law, the CSE enforces child support via the following legal actions:
- Income withholding orders: such orders apply to commissions, wages, salary, and bonuses or incomes that apply as per the guidelines.
- Benefit withholding: benefits such as unemployment, disability income, retirement benefits, can be withheld.
- If the amount of back child support owed exceeds $500. The CSE can intercept state, federal tax refunds, and lottery winnings.
- When the amount exceeds $2500, the state department will deny or revoke your passport.
- One month back support may prompt asset seizure or liens on cars, boats, or homes. ‘
- Six months’ worth of back child support will lead to professional, drivers, and or recreational licenses denial or revocation.
When does non-support become a felony in Kentucky?
Willful failure to pay child support in Kentucky will result in ‘contempt of court’ charges. Normally what happens is, you fail to pay, forcing the custodial parent to report you to the CSE.
From there, enforcement action begins, traditionally with an income withholding order that forces your employer to garnish part of your earnings directly. Furthermore, if the court finds that you willfully failed to pay, the judge will send you to jail.
Felony nonsupport Kentucky
Kentucky child support laws dictate that a person is guilty of felony nonsupport if, one, a person “persistently fails to provide support which he/she can legally provide.” Two, “a person is guilty of flagrant non-support when he persistently fails to provide support which he can reasonably provide and he knows that he has a duty.”
What is important to remember is that non-support is a class A felony in Kentucky, whereas, flagrant nonsupport is a class D felony.
The remedy for these violations is jail time or a fine.
But remember, jail time is the last option because it may hinder a parent’s ability to pay. So, to avoid incarceration, simply comply with your child support order or request for modification.
Is there a statute of limitations on child support in Kentucky?
Kentucky’s back child support statute of limitations is 15 years from the expiration of the order. Additionally, under Kentucky child care laws, the state does not charge interest on missed payments or retroactive support.
But, interest on arrears is charged at a rate of 12%.
It is also worth noting that paternity must be established before the child’s 19th birthday.
How do I cancel child support in Kentucky?
Child support automatically terminates when the child turns 18 in Kentucky. Regardless, the judge or CSE may order the continuation of payments until the child turns 19 if he or she is still in high school.
If you were providing support for more than one child, support does not automatically terminate when one turns 18. Consequently, you must petition the court to reduce your obligation via modification.
What about emancipation and termination of parental obligation in Kentucky??
In Kentucky, emancipation happens when the child turns 18. That means, legally, you/guardians no longer have any financial obligation towards the child.
However, the law allows minors to get emancipated before they turn 18. To become eligible, the child must be:
- At least 16 years old.
- Married with parental consent.
- Enlisted in the US military.
- Financially independent.
- You must not be living with your parents or guardian.
- Your income source must be legal.
- And you must demonstrate to the court that emancipation is in your best interest.
On the other hand, Kentucky child support laws allow parents to voluntarily terminate parental obligation. The idea is to get the custodial parent to agree for voluntary termination, then file a petition, and attend a court hearing for determination.
Parental financial obligation-may also be terminated if the absentee parent cannot be found. Remember, the main determinant here is “the best interest of the child”.
What are the implications of parental obligation termination?
- The parent will no longer have any responsibility for the child.
- You will have no say on how the child is raised.
Lastly, terminating parental obligation does not clear child support arrears.
Overall, Kentucky child support laws can get tricky to navigate, so our advice is, consult with a child support attorney in your area.
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