The traditional notion of child support being only the father’s responsibility has long gone. Today, women’s role is no longer limited to managing the household and raising children. They are actively contributing to the economy, and some are primary earners in their households. According to the Pew Research Center, today in the USA:
- Sixteen percent of marriages have a breadwinner wife
- In twenty-nine percent of marriages, both spouses earn the same amount of money
So, do women pay child support as well? Yes, a mother may be obligated to pay child support.
Kansas’s Law on Mothers Paying Child Support
Kansas laws require parents to financially support their children which depending on the situation, a mother may be obligated to pay child support, as they are increasingly becoming the breadwinners in society. Kansas follows the income share model for determining child support obligations. It makes both partners responsible for their child’s well-being, regardless of gender.
If you’re a mother going through a divorce or separation, read this blog post. It will discuss when you are on the hook to make child support payments and everything you need to know about it. The Bright Family Law Center has helped many mothers navigate the complexities of child support laws and negotiate fair legal child support agreements.
How Kansas Courts Calculate Child Support
Since each case is different, the method used to calculate child support in your situation will be unique. Generally, Kansas courts follow the worksheet mentioned in the Kansas Child Support Guidelines, to calculate child support obligations. This worksheet considers various factors, but three of them are primary in determining the child support obligations of mothers.
The court considers the gross income of both parents to calculate child support obligations. So, if you are a working mother or have income, the child support law will likely require you to pay child support.
The gross income of a wage earner comprises income from all sources, such as salaries, bonuses, and wages. However, it does not include public assistance and child support received for other children.
Public assistance means any income received from public sources such as:
- Supplemental Security Income (SSI)
- Earned Income Credit (EIC)
- Food stamps
- Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF)
- General Assistance (GA)
- Low-Income Energy Assistance Program (LIEAP)
However, if you’re self-employed, your gross income will include all income from your business, some reasonable reduced expenses, and any other regularly and periodically received income.
The court may also impute income to a mother in some cases if it finds appropriate. For example, the court may impute income to the mother if it finds her deliberately keeping herself unemployed or facing termination due to misconduct rather than being laid off.
Before imposing income, it considers specific circumstances:
- Assets of a mother
- Earning history
- Employment history
- Job skills
- Educational attainment
- Criminal record
- Other relevant background of her
After calculating the gross domestic income of the household, the court divides it in proportion to determine each parent’s share of child support obligations. For example, when the mother earns 60 percent of the household’s gross income and the father 40 percent, the court will likely assign 60 percent of the financial support obligation to the mother and 40 percent to the father.
The custody of the child plays a crucial role in assigning child support obligations to women.
The court determines the share of child support obligations of each parent based on different custody arrangements. If the father has primary custody of a child and he resides with the child(ren) the majority of the time, the mother’s child support obligation share will likely be higher than the father.
However, if you don’t have prime custody of your child, you can request the court to make adjustments in your share of the child support obligation. The court may consider your request if you spend at least 35% or more time with the child. According to the Kansas Child Support Guidelines, the adjustment allowed is as follows:
- The court may reduce the non-custodial parents’ child support obligation by 10% if they spend 35% to 39% of the time with the child.
- If the non-custodial parent spends 40% to 44% of the time with the child, the court can make a 20% adjustment to their child support obligation.
- If the non-custodial parent spends 45% to 49% of the time with the child, the court can make up to a 30% adjustment in their child support obligation.
Sharing Equal Time
In custody arrangements where both parents spend equal time with the child, the court can apply the shared expense formula and allow them to share the direct expenses of a child on an equal basis. Direct expenses of the child include all those fixed expenses paid directly to a third party:
- School expenses and relating to it like school lunches
- Church expenses
- Sports club expenses
- Extracurricular activities fees
Direct expenses of the child exclude:
- Household food
However, the court will only apply this shared expense formula if it finds:
- Custodial parents share equal parenting time, and it’s in the best interest of their child.
- Parents have a detailed written agreement to share the direct expenses of a child equally.
- Both parents are able to communicate well.
- Neither parent may unilaterally terminate or modify the shared direct expense plan. They should have an alternative dispute resolution process for any disagreements that may arise concerning the shared expenses.
In cases where the child has special needs, the court may increase the child support obligation amount, placing a higher financial responsibility on both parents. If you are a mother who owes child support, it will add more financial burden to you.
Special needs expenses are those which are unusual and include expenses for:
- Treatment for health problems
- Orthodontist care
- Special education
- Therapy sessions
In summary, the court needs to protect the best interests of children. It won’t matter if you are a mother; you will owe a child support obligation if it’s in the best interest of your child.
At The Bright Family Law Center, our attorneys are experienced in child support and well-versed in the Kansas Child Support Guidelines. We can assist you in determining your estimated child support obligations.
Modification of Child Support Orders
Once the court issues a child support order, you must comply with it. However, you can also ask the court to modify it in certain situations:
- A material change in circumstances
- Age change of the child
Material Change in Circumstances
The material change in circumstances can refer to several changes, including financial situation. It tends to occur when either parent’s income increases or decreases by 10 percent.
If your ex-partner experiences a 10% or more increase in income, or if your income decreases by 10% or more, you can request the court to modify the child support obligation order.
However, termination from employment for misconduct or voluntary termination from employment will not ordinarily constitute a material change in financial circumstances that justifies the reduction in child support.
Age Change of a Child
As children grow older, their needs and expenses evolve. Modification is also permissible in the child support order when your child reaches the age of six or twelve.
High-Earning Mother and Low-Earning Father
In a family where the mother has primary income or earns more than the father, the court might order her to pay child support.
Different Custody Arrangements
The court might order the mother to pay child support if the father has primary custody of the child or the child spends the majority of time with the father.
We have seen this in some celebrity divorces such as with Britney Spears and Halle Berry. Halle Berry paid her ex, Gabriel Aubry, $16,000 per month in child support, while Britney Spears paid $20,000 per month to Kevin Federline.
Penalties for Failing to Pay Child Support
The consequences of not paying child support can be severe. The court will do everything to protect your child’s best interests; you can even face jail time. Common penalties for failing to pay child support include:
- Garnishment of wages
- Suspension of driver’s license
- Loss of tax refund
- Seizure of property
Even if you file for bankruptcy, you will still not be able to avoid your child support obligations. The court will adjust your child support payments for the future.
You should immediately clear your dues if you are falling behind on your child support payments and ask the court to modify the existing child support order. The Bright Family Law Center has helped many women modify their existing child support orders. Discuss your case with our family lawyers if you’re facing financial hardship.