Child support can be a contentious issue in a divorce or between unmarried parents. Fortunately, Kansas has a guideline formula in place for determining child support.
Understanding the rules of the road can help resolve disputes. In this guide, we’ll cover:
- Who Pays Child Support
- How is Child Support Determined
- Deviating from the Kansas Guidelines
- Health Insurance
- When Does Child Support End
- Child Support and Taxes
- How to Request Child Support
- Enforcing Kansas Child Support Orders
- Modifying Kansas Child Support Payments
- Establishing Paternity in Kansas
- Which Agency Handles Child Support in Kansas?
Who Pays Child Support in Kansas
Both parents have a duty to support their children in Kansas. The parent with primary residential custody remains responsible for child support, but the law assumes this parent spends the required amount directly on the child. A court can order one or both parents to make payments.
How is Child Support Determined in Kansas?
The state has developed Child Support Guidelines that provide a framework for child support matters. Parents will need to complete a Child Support Worksheet to show the calculations involved and the amount of child support to be paid.
Kansas uses the “income share” method for calculating child support payments, designed to ensure that both the custodial and non-custodial parents contribute to their child’s upkeep. To use the guidelines, you must determine both parents’ adjusted gross incomes by collecting information on both parents’ incomes for the past three years. That includes their salary, wages, commissions, overtime pay, some bonuses, royalties, tips, rents, dividends, severance pay, and military pensions.
For child support purposes, income is all earned and unearned income during a calendar year, regardless of whether it’s taxable.
If you’re unemployed, you may still be considered to have an income for child support purposes.
In some cases, a court or state agency could assign an income amount to the parent without primary residential custody if that parent voluntarily works less or not at all without a good reason for doing so.
Deductions from both parents’ gross income are factored in to determine the adjusted income for each. Deductions include spousal support paid, union dues, state and federal income taxes, etc.
What is a Domestic Relations Affidavit (DRA)?
The DRA is a court form required to obtain financial and other information needed by the Court to make certain decisions. In some situations, the court requires less information and may only require a mini-DRA or short form DRA.
What is the connection between child support and seeing my children?
There is no “right” to see your child that is earned by paying child support. There is also no “right” to withhold parenting time because a parent does not pay child support.
Both child support and parenting time usually are part of court orders issued by a judge who has jurisdiction over the parties. Failure to follow the court orders can expose the parent to a finding of “contempt of court,” possibly resulting in a fine, jail time, or other similar penalties.
Read More: How to File for Divorce in Kansas
Deviating from Kansas State Guidelines
Basic child support amounts are assumed to be appropriate unless other factors or deviations are introduced.
For example, the Child Support Guidelines allow a child support reduction if both parents accept a substantial amount of the children’s expenses by providing substantial parenting time.
The guidelines allow a change of child support for a parent who has the children more than 35% of the time. To qualify for the adjustment, the amount of time with the non-custodial parent must be more than 39 hours a week.
After calculations are made, the percentage decrease in child support is based on the parenting time split of the parents as follows:
If a non-custodial parent is disabled and can’t pay support, under the guidelines, money received from SSI (Supplemental Security Income) is excluded as income in computing support. This has the effect of making a person who only receives SSI pays no child support.
Any other person who is disabled will have the actual amount of income they receive considered in computing child support. This could be from Social Security disability or a private disability policy.
Read More: Everything You Need to Know About Alimony
Health insurance is an essential part of Kansas child support orders. Parents must agree to how coverage is handled. Most times, reasonably priced coverage may be available through an employer. However, when it is not, it must be made.
Unlike most states, Kansas has no special provisions for extraordinary medical costs. Medical care costs are lumped in with other costs of providing for the child when child support calculations are being made.
Child Care Expenses
Kansas has specialized guidelines that consider child care costs separately from the general costs of raising a child for the purposes of calculating child support payments. Kansas treats child care costs as a “mandatory deduction” for basic child support.
That means that if the non-custodial parent pays child care costs, the portion of the total monthly child care costs attributed to the custodial partner are deducted from the noncustodial partner’s monthly child support payment. If the custodial parent pays for child care, the non-custodial parent must pay their share in addition to basic child support.
When Does Child Support End in Kansas?
Child support does not end until June 30 of the year following a child’s graduation from high school, provided the child is still attending high school. The court may order support to continue until the child turns 19 if the child is still in high school.
Child support should end automatically. But if an income withholding order is in place, a motion to terminate or reduce child support may be required.
Support can also end if the child becomes emancipated, joins the U.S. military, or gets married.
Also, Kansas has no explicit requirement for college expenses to be covered under child support, but if parents can agree, those expenses may be paid, creating a contractually enforceable agreement.
Child Support and Taxes
Child support payments are neither deductible by the payer nor taxable to the recipient. Don’t include child support payments received when you calculate your gross income.
However, you may be able to claim the child as a dependent. Generally, the custodial parent is treated as one who provides more than half of the child’s support. In some cases, the noncustodial parent may be treated as the parent who provided more than half of the child’s support.
Many agreements include a provision that each parent declares half the children as dependents when there is an even number of children. The parents alternate years claiming the child for an odd number of children. In this situation, parents may need to submit Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, or a substantially similar statement.
How Do I Ask for Child Support?
Any parent or person with custody of a child who needs help to establish paternity, create a child support or medical support order, modify a support order or collect payments that are owed can apply for CSS services.
Contact CSS during regular business hours (Monday-Friday, 7 a.m. to 6 p.m.) by calling the Child Support Call Center at 1-888-757-2445. A child support representative can discuss how to enroll for services, support services in general, or answer questions about an existing child support case.
CSS must have enough information to pursue a case. The more details you can provide, the easier it will be to process the case and collect child support payments.
Mothers will be asked questions about the child’s conception and the alleged father if paternity is an issue. CSS will also need to know if the non-custodial parent needs to be located.
In all cases, it’s helpful to provide the non-custodial parent’s last known address, last known employer, information about friends and family, and whether they are members of the Armed Forces.
Because support orders are based on both parents’ ability to pay, both may be required to provide financial information about income, property, savings accounts, etc.
Enforcement of Kansas Child Support Orders
The Child Support Enforcement (CSE) Program handles child support enforcement matters through the Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services.
If the non-custodial parent does not make child support payments on time, they have a full calendar month from the due date to make the payment before it is considered delinquent. Once a full calendar month has passed and the non-custodial parent is one full month delinquent, CSS can take enforcement actions.
When a Kansas court issues a child support order, the order allows the recipient of the child support to obtain an Income Withholding Order. It can be served on the employer of the person who has to pay child support. After service is completed, the employer will start taking the child support amount out of the employee’s pay and sending it to the Kansas Payment Center.
Every district court in Kansas has an arrangement for helping families collect child support. Check the District Court where your case is filed to see what alternate support collection services are available. Some counties are also available from a court trustee. Contact the Child Support Call Center at 1-888-757-2445 (TTY 1-888-688-1666) for additional information.
Because the child support payments are created under a court order, failure to follow that order can be punished as contempt of court. That can lead to several possible penalties, including fines or a jail sentence.
In most cases, the judge will approve a plan that pays current support and regular payment on the past support to avoid a jail sentence.
Other enforcement actions may include:
- Issuing a lien on any vehicle, boat, or aircraft owned by someone who is at least 30 days behind in paying child support. The lien can be enforced by forcing the sale of the property subject to the lien
- Reporting to credit bureaus
- Passport denial
- Recreational license denial
- Professional license suspension
- Attachment of a Federal or State income tax return
- The court can suspend the driver’s license of any person behind in support for more than six months and has the means to pay that support.
- Federal criminal charges are occasionally filed against a parent who leaves one state specifically to avoid paying child support.
Can child support be established and enforced if the non-custodial parent lives in another state?
Kansas may request the state where the non-custodial parent lives to establish or enforce a child support order.
What if the non-custodial parent is in jail or prison?
If the noncustodial parent is not on a work release program and has no assets, efforts to collect child support may be unsuccessful. CSS can still initiate legal action if the non-custodial parent is in a federal penitentiary, Kansas prison, or county jail. CSS also has the right to close the child support case if the non-custodial parent is incarcerated beyond the youngest child’s emancipation date.
How to Change the Amount of Child Support
The court can order a change in the amount of child support based on the parent’s request. This request is called a motion, which must be filed with the Clerk of the District Court and set for a hearing.
You can use this form, Motion to Modify Child Support, to change or stop the child support order.
There must be a substantial change in circumstances to warrant a modification. This could be due to a job loss, long-term illness, a change in child care or medical insurance costs, the child becomes emancipated, or other similar reasons.
You can complete a new child support worksheet on the interactive Child Support Worksheet. Under most circumstances, the change in child support must be at least a 10% change up or down. By completing a new child support worksheet, you will know if the amount of change is enough. This interactive interview only works for situations where the parents’ combined income is less than $50,000.
If a child’s mother was not married when the child was born, it might be necessary to establish paternity. That assigns the father legal rights and responsibilities and creates a formal relationship with the child.
After paternity is legally established, a child gains child support rights, the right to inherit, access to the father’s medical and life insurance benefits, and Social Security and veteran’s benefits. Another benefit is having a full family medical history, which can help if the child has inherited any special health problems.
There are several ways to establish paternity in Kansas:
Voluntarily by agreement. Kansas hospitals give unmarried parents of a newborn the chance to acknowledge the father’s paternity and have his name put on the birth certificate. If an acknowledgment is not signed at the hospital, the parents can go to the local Kansas court to sign forms and complete the process.
A father can also sign a voluntary agreement and an Agreed Order through CSS, which is filed with the court.
Through genetic testing. If a man denies he is the father or says he is unsure, CSS will arrange for genetic testing. This simple but accurate test will compare the DNA of the mother, the child, and the man alleged to be the father. These tests are accurate and will exclude a man who is not the biological father.
If a man is not excluded, CSS requires the laboratory to analyze the DNA until they can show that the probability of paternity is at least 99%.
Paternity can also be established if the alleged father lives in another state. Depending on the circumstances of the case, CSS will either attempt to secure an Agreed Order for paternity, file a petition with the court in Kansas to establish paternity, or request assistance from the state where the non-custodial parent resides.
Which Agency Handles Child Support in Kansas?
The Kansas Department for Children and Families Child Support Services helps children receive the financial support necessary for their growth and development. The program provides several child support services, such as establishing parentage and orders for child and medical support, locating noncustodial parents and their property, enforcing child and medical support orders, and modifying support orders as appropriate.
The Child Support Call Center is the primary resource to contact for most child support issues. Call them at 1-888-757-2445.
Kansas CSS does not provide the following services:
- Establishing, enforcing, or modifying custody orders
- Establishing, enforcing, or modifying visitation orders
- Retroactive child support (also known as the Cost of Raising a Child (CRCH) judgment) unless paternity has not legally been established, does not exceed five years, and is entered at the time of the original order.
- Divorce actions
- Enforcing property and debt division provisions of a divorce decree
- Collection of attorney fees owed to a custodial parent
- Obtaining judgment for children’s medical expenses not covered by insurance
- Collection of children’s medical expenses not covered by insurance, unless reduced to a judgment in the original support order or reduced to judgment after the order is entered;
- Calculating judgment interest on past due support, unless reduced to judgment after the order is entered
- Providing legal advice to a parent or custodian.
The Kansas Payment Center processes child support payments. They can assist with direct deposits, verifying payments and balances, and other related services. If you have questions, call 1-877-572-5722.