Child support is a parent’s court-ordered payment to help with the costs of raising a child. Child support normally stops when a child turns 18. However, if the child is still in high school when he or she turns 18, child support will continue until high school graduation or at least until the end of the school year when the child turns 19.
During a marriage or committed relationship, child support is rarely a concern for the court. But when parents divorce or stop living together with their children as a family, the courts often become involved. Like custody, the amount of support can be decided by agreement or by a court action where a judge sets the support.
A parent or someone on the child’s behalf must bring a court case to get an order for child support. A judge can order child support in a:
Both parents can agree about the amount of child support to be paid and ask the court to make this agreement part of a court order. But the court reviews the child support amount to make sure it is fair and in the child’s best interest.
In most cases, the court won’t let child support be waived completely. Waived means excusing someone from paying.
Kentucky has child support guidelines written into law since 1990. The guidelines use a formula for calculating child support based on each parent's gross income. These guidelines are used in child support cases unless it can be shown that using the guidelines would be unfair and inappropriate in a case.
If a parent is employed to full capacity, then their actual gross income is used to figure out child support. Sometimes parents quit their jobs, or take a job that pays less, or are not working for other reasons. Some of these parents may be ordered to pay child support based on what they could earn. This is called “Potential Income.”
Potential income can be set using what the parent used to earn. Or if they don’t have much work history, it can be set at minimum wage working 30 hours per week.
Note: potential income isn't used for unemployed or underemployed parents in 3 situations:
You can use the Child Support Estimation Calculator.
You can find the calculator at: https://csws.chfs.ky.gov/csws/general/EstimateDisclaimer.aspx
Make sure you have this information to use the Calculator:
If you already have a child support order, you can ask the same court to raise or lower the amount of child support if there has been a “substantial change of circumstances” since the last order. To do this, you have to show the court there is a reason for the change.
Here are some reasons why child support could be changed:
The court won’t change the child support order unless the child support amount goes up or down by at least 15%.
When parents have a split custody arrangement:
Child support is calculated using the Child Support Guidelines. Once your child support amount is set, the amount of benefits your child gets because of your disability are subtracted from how much you have to pay.
Yes. Children have the legal right to be financially supported by both parents. A parent can’t avoid paying child support by giving up custody or parenting time rights.
No. Parenting time can't be limited or denied to try to get child support. There are other actions you can take if your child’s parent is behind on their child support payments.
Yes. If there is a child support order that says you have to pay child support, you have to pay even if you don’t see your child. There are other actions you can take if the other parent is not letting you see your child.
No. If a child lives with you and depends on you for support, you may be able to get child support from one or both parents. For example, grandparents raising their grandchildren can get child support from the parents. This information section talks about child support for parents since they are usually the ones paying and getting child support, but the this information can also be used by grandparents and other people caring for children.
If you don’t pay child support, the other parent can file to bring you back to court. This is called a motion for contempt. After hearing the evidence, the Court may find you in contempt of court.
Things that might happen include:
If you are behind in your child support and the Family Court finds that you failed to pay on purpose (called willfully), you could go to jail. What the court decides to do depends on the facts and details of your case.
No. If you make child support payments, you can’t deduct them from your income when you file your taxes.
If you get child support payments, you don’t count them as income when you file your taxes.
These tax rules are the same for both federal income tax and Kentucky income tax.
If the support order is for more than one child, it doesn’t automatically end when one of the children reaches 18 (or 19 if still in high school) unless:
If neither of these conditions exists, ask the court that made the order to change the order because your child is 18 or is 19 and not in high school.
If a parent gets KTAP benefits and also gets child support, the State Disbursement Unit (SDU) sends the child support payment to IV-D Services. Then IV-D Services pays the parent getting KTAP either $50 per month or the child support payment, whichever is less, and the welfare check. This is called a "pass-through" payment. The IV-D Services keeps the rest of the child support amount. If the parent stops getting welfare from the IV-D Services, they need to tell the SDU so that they can now get the entire child support payment.
In most cases, child support payments are taken directly out of the paycheck of the parent who is paying.
The process starts when a form is sent to the parent’s employer. The form is a Uniform Child Support Order and/or Wage/Income Withholding Order found here: (https://kycourts.gov/Legal-Forms/Legal%20Forms/152.pdf) OR an Income Withholding for Support Order found here: (https://www.acf.hhs.gov/sites/default/files/documents/ocse/omb_0970_0154.pdf)
The employer has to follow the Order by taking the child support money out of the paycheck and sending it to the State Disbursement Unit (SDU). The SDU then records the child support payment and sends the payment to the other parent.
The parent paying child support has to make sure that their employer is taking the right amount out of their paycheck. If the employer doesn’t take the money out and send it to the SDU, the paying parent has to send it.
Child support can also be taken from other kinds of income, like unemployment insurance and worker’s compensation.
Yes. You can contact Child Support Enforcement Office. They can help anyone who has physical custody of a child and needs help with things like:
This includes a parent who is separated from their spouse even if no divorce action has been filed. A man who thinks he is the biological father of a child born out of wedlock can also apply for services.
You can find find your local office here: https://csws.chfs.ky.gov/csws/General/FindOffice.aspx