The Commonwealth of Kentucky uses state-approved child support guidelines to determine support issues in the state. Here’s what you need to know about those guidelines and other important information if you’re facing this legal issue.
- Who Must Pay Child Support in Kentucky?
- How is Child Support Determined in Kentucky?
- Which Agency Handles Child Support in Kentucky?
- How Do I Ask for Child Support?
- Factors that May Impact Child Support in Kentucky
- Is Health Insurance Considered a Part of Child Support?
- Establishing Paternity in Kentucky
- Enforcing Kentucky Child Support Orders
- Modifying Kentucky Child Support Payments
- Child Support and Taxes
- When Does Child Support End in Kentucky?
2022 Legislative Update
Child Support Enforcement administrative regulations were in the process of being updated as this article was being published. Here’s what you should know about these updates that will probably become effective late in 2022.
The Department for Income Support filed a proposed ordinary regulation on July 11, 2022. You can view the current regulation on the LRC website.
The update provides certain changes to the establishment, review, and modification of child support and medical support orders. This administrative regulation is being amended to update several essential forms.
Those proposed updated forms can be viewed here:
Who Must Pay Child Support in Kentucky?
Both parents are required to provide appropriate financial support for their minor children in Kentucky. In most cases, child support is a payment made by a noncustodial parent for the care of their child.
Anyone who has physical custody of a child and needs help establishing the child’s father’s identity, establishing a child support order, or collecting current or past-due child support is eligible to receive child support services.
This includes parents who are separated from their spouses even if no divorce action has been filed. A man who believes he is the biological father of a child born out of wedlock may also apply for services.
How is Child Support Determined in Kentucky?
A calculation tool is available on the Kentucky Child Support Interactive Website. Parents can also use the following forms to calculate the amount of child support a noncustodial parent must pay.
The CS-71.1 is only used when one parent has 100% of the family’s total income. When printing these forms, you must also print a copy of the Child Support Guidelines Table to complete the worksheet.
- CS-71 – Worksheet For Monthly Child Support Obligation
- CS-71.1 – Worksheet For Monthly Child Support Obligation Exception
The Kentucky Child Support Program refers to a parent who does not have physical custody of a child as the noncustodial parent (NCP). Typically, a noncustodial parent is ordered to provide child and medical support for the children.
The person with physical custody of the child is the custodial parent (CP). Although this is typically a parent, a custodial parent could also be the child’s relative or another caretaker.
Also, note that child support services cannot be requested until after the child’s birth.
Child support amounts are based on several factors, including each parent’s income, the amount of time a child spends with each parent, the cost of medical support, pre-existing child support or spousal support obligation by either parent, and other related circumstances.
Parenting time only influences the quantity of child support if the family court considers the visitations are significantly more than those typically accepted by the court. The court will make modifications to child support on a case-by-case basis.
To get an idea of what you might pay, parents can access the Child Support Calculator. You must enter as much information as possible to get the most accurate figure. Keep in mind that this is just an estimate, and the actual amount will be approved or modified by a judge.
The amount of child support is usually capped by a percentage depending on the number of children. Here is a breakout of how that looks.
The percentage of disposable income (after taxes) that can be withheld changes slightly under some circumstances but cannot exceed:
- 50% of a person’s disposable earnings if the person is supporting a second family (a spouse or dependent child)
- 55% of a person’s disposable earnings if the person is supporting a second family and owes an arrearage that is 12 weeks or more past due
- 60% of a person’s disposable earnings if the person is not supporting a second family
- 65% of a person’s disposable earnings if the person is not supporting a second family and owes an arrearage that is 12 weeks or more past due
Which Agency Handles Child Support in Kentucky?
The Kentucky Cabinet for Health and Family Services, Division of Child Support Enforcement (CSE) handles child support issues in the Commonwealth of Kentucky.
The Child Support Enforcement Agency provides the following services:
- Locating noncustodial parents
- Locating custodial parents to establish paternity i
- Establishment of paternity, including genetic testing
- Establishment of child and medical support orders
- Enforcing child and medical support orders
- Collection and enforcement of current and past-due child support obligations
- Enforcing medical support, specifically ensuring health insurance coverage is obtained when ordered
- Collection and enforcement of medical expenses when there is a judgment for the actual amount of expenses owed
- Collection and enforcement of current or past-due spousal support when a spousal support order exists, the child is living with the spouse/ex-spouse, and Child Support Enforcement is collecting support for the child
- Review for possible modification of child or medical support obligations
Federal regulations do not allow the Division of Child Support Enforcement to provide services to establish or enforce visitation or custody. To discuss visitation or custody matters, contact a private attorney or the Custody and Visitation Hotline operated by the Louisville Legal Aid Society at 1-844-673-3470, Monday through Friday.
Go to the Kentucky Child Support Interactive website for a complete overview of services.
Go here to find a local office.
You can also contact Kentucky Child Support at the following:
Child Support Enforcement Hotline
8 a.m. – 4:30 p.m. Eastern time
CHFS Office of the Ombudsman
Email the Ombudsman’s office
Custody and Visitation Hotline
9a.m. – noon and 1 – 5 p.m., Monday-Friday
KY Paternity Acknowledgement Program
KY New Hire Reporting Center
Where do I send my child support payments?
Child support payments can be paid on the Kentucky Child Support Interactive website, by phone with a debit or credit card, or by mail.
All payments mailed must list the name and social security number or IV-D number of the noncustodial parent. The check or money order must be made payable to Kentucky Child Support Enforcement and mailed to:
Centralized Collection Unit
P.O. Box 14059
Lexington, KY 40512
What is the difference between an IV-D case and a Non-IV-D case?
An IV-D Case requires an application for services. Child Support Enforcement provides services to locate the noncustodial parent, establish paternity, establish child and medical support, modify obligations, and enforce and collect the child support obligation. Full cooperation from the applicant is required to receive these services.
For Non-IV-Case, Child Support Enforcement does not have a role in establishing or enforcing child support. Payments on Non-IV-D cases are processed and distributed based on the court information on record. It is the responsibility of the custodial parent, noncustodial parent, and private attorney to provide file-marked copies of orders to establish a case or update the court information. This type of case may also include previous IV-D cases closed by the custodial parent.
Read More: Divorce Laws in Kentucky
How Do I Ask for Child Support?
The application can be obtained from your local child support office, by applying and submitting through the KCSI home page, or you can complete the application online.
Child support enforcement services are automatically provided to current and former recipients of K-TAP and public medical assistance. Your K-TAP caseworker will refer your case to the appropriate child support office.
Parents not receiving K-TAP or medical assistance can apply for child support enforcement services on the Kentucky Child Support Interactive Website. Get more information by reading the Child Support Fact Sheet for non-KTAP applicants.
You can also download and complete the Application for Child Support Services.
The applicant should also complete the following forms:
- Authorization and Acknowledgement of No Legal Representation, which explains that county attorneys employed by the Cabinet for Health and Family Services represent the state and not the applicant.
- Custodial Parent Affidavit is a sworn statement of the amount of support paid to the custodial parent.
- Authorization for Electronic Deposit of Child Support Payments
After completing an application, it has to be either hand-delivered or mailed to your local child support office.
An annual fee of $35.00 is charged on all child support cases in which the custodial parent has never received cash assistance (KTAP/AFDC/KINSHIP CARE).
How long does it take to get child support after I apply?
The length of time depends upon the unique circumstances of each case. Factors contributing to the case’s complexity can include difficulty locating the noncustodial parent, paternity establishment, multiple potential fathers, or noncustodial parents living in another state/country. Providing additional information when requested helps the child support agency promptly obtain a child support order.
Does the CSE child support attorney handling my case represent me?
The CSE attorney assigned to the case represents the state’s interest in seeing that the children are financially cared for, but not the interest of the custodial or noncustodial parent.
Factors that May Impact Child Support in Kentucky
The court can deviate from the basic child support calculation if it is determined that a different amount better serves a child’s interests. Several factors may influence this deviation, including:
- The amount of extraordinary medical costs and the costs of health insurance.
- The new law has established a uniform method of calculating child support for shared parenting cases. The court must consider the number of “overnight stays” each parent exercises, then provide a calculation based on equal or unequal parenting time. Previously, deviations to child support were at the court’s discretion.
- When determining parenting time, the court can consider who is feeding, transporting, entertaining, helping with schoolwork, attending activities and athletic events, and paying for other child expenses.
- Parents who are willingly underemployed or unemployed as a way to shirk their support duties can be subject to income imputing. A judge will calculate what a parent should be earning after considering factors such as their assets, residence, employment and earning history, skills, education, age, health, criminal record, a record of seeking work, local job market, prevailing wage, and other factors that are barriers to employment.
- The court can consider the ability of the obligated parent to maintain basic necessities for the child in their home, the geographical distance between the parties, and whether all of the children are exercising shared parenting.
Can I apply for child support services if the father of my child lives in another state or country?
Your local child support office can work with the other state or country to establish paternity or a child support order. Depending on the other agency, this could delay the processing of your case.
Can I apply for child support services if I am unsure which man is my child’s father?
Yes. After receiving the application for services, the local child support office will determine the best course of action based on the circumstances of the case.
Will my child support obligation stop if I go to jail or prison?
No. The child support obligation does not end when a parent becomes incarcerated.
Is Health Insurance Considered a Part of Child Support?
Yes. Health insurance must be included in all child support orders. Even if it isn’t available immediately, the court will order the insurance to be provided when it does become available.
The court can order one or both parents to provide health care coverage.
If health care coverage is not accessible at a reasonable cost, the order will provide for cash medical support by ordering payment of extraordinary medical expenses are paid. Extraordinary medical expenses are those not covered by insurance.
Reasonable cost is the cost of providing health care coverage for the child that does not exceed 5% of the responsible parent’s gross income.
Establishing Paternity in Kentucky
Paternity is the establishment of a legal right of a child’s biological father and must be established before the court can issue a child support order.
Paternity can be established by Voluntary Acknowledgment of Paternity or through court.
A voluntary acknowledgment of paternity form can be completed by hospital staff at the time of the child’s birth or a later date through the health department or local child support office.
This form should only be completed if genetic testing is not needed. Once completed, this form is sent to the Office of Vital Statistics and recorded.
If paternity is not contested, an agreed order can be signed by the alleged father and entered by the court. However, if the child’s paternity is disputed and genetic testing is requested, the court will order genetic testing.
If genetic testing proves the alleged father is the child’s biological father, the court will enter an order of paternity. The court may also enter a default judgment of paternity declaring paternity of a child when the alleged father is served with the paternity action and fails to respond within 20 calendar days.
Genetic tests require a DNA sample from the mother, alleged father, and the child. The sample is taken by rubbing a buccal swab on the inside of the mouth. The samples are sent to a lab for analysis, and the results are usually back within a month.
Read More: How to Prepare for a Divorce Hearing
Enforcing Kentucky Child Support Orders
Many enforcement remedies can be used to collect a child support obligation. Some of those include:
- Court action resulting in jail time
- Interception of tax refunds, insurance settlements, and lottery winnings
- Passport denial
- Liens on property and bank accounts
- Driver’s, professional/occupational, or wildlife (hunting/fishing) license revocation/denial
- Levying financial institution (bank) accounts
- Withholding of unemployment benefits
What is income withholding?
Income withholding is the deduction of the current and past-due support, child support, child care support, medical support, or spousal support obligation from a noncustodial parent’s wages or other sources of income.
An employer has 14 days from the date the income withholding order is received to begin withholding. The employer must send the payment to CSE within seven days of withholding it from the employee’s pay.
Enforcement actions can begin when the noncustodial parent is behind by the amount equal to one month’s obligation.
Modifying Kentucky Child Support Payments
You can request a modification on your child support order by submitting a written request for a review to the local child support office handling your case. The review request should also provide proof of daycare expenses and health insurance costs whenever possible. You’ll also need to submit income information such as W2s, tax returns, and pay stubs.
There must be a substantial and continuing change that results in the support obligation going up or down by 15% or more before the local office will file a legal action to change the amount.
Just as it is for an initial child support order, modifications are calculated using the Kentucky Child Support Guidelines.
The Cabinet for Health and Family Services represents the best interest of the child and not either party. At any time, either party may choose to use a private attorney to present arguments on their behalf.
Read More: A Guide to Divorce Financial Planning
Child Support and Taxes
Child support payments are not deductible by the payer or 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 can alternate years claiming a child when there is 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 similar statement.
When Does Child Support End in Kentucky?
Support orders end in Montana when the child turns 18 unless they are still enrolled in high school. In that case, support continues through the school year when the child turns 19.
Under certain circumstances, child support may continue past that time if ordered by the court. That might be the case if a child is mentally or physically disabled.
Support will also end earlier if the child is emancipated, joins the military, gets married, or passes away.
When a support order is for more than one child, the support obligation will not automatically end when one of the children reaches 18 (or 19 if still in high school) unless that child is the youngest child or the child support order lists a separate amount of child support for each child.