In Kansas, both parents have a legal obligation to financially support their child. However, figuring out which parent will pay child support and how much should be paid each month can become contentious in a Kansas divorce. An experienced child support attorney at The Bright Family Law Center can help you understand how child support works and, if your case is going to court, how child support will be calculated.
What are Kansas Child Support Guidelines?
The Kansas Child Support Guidelines are a set of rules and regulations established by a committee of individuals, judges and attorneys appointed by the Kansas Supreme Court, designed to create consistency and fairness in child support calculations. These guidelines are a part of the broader legal framework intended to safeguard the rights and interests of children during and after their parents’ separation.
Child support payments are meant to cover various expenses, including housing, food, clothing, healthcare, education, and extracurricular activities, ensuring that the child’s standard of living remains as close as possible to what it would have been if the parents were still together.
The current set of Kansas Child Support Guidelines is governed by the Kansas Supreme Court Administrative Order, which was effective as of January 1, 2020.
How is Child Support Calculated in Kansas?
Here’s a breakdown of how child support is calculated in Kansas:
The first step in calculating child support is determining the gross income of both parents. Gross income includes:
- Self-employment income
- Rental income
- And various other sources of income
It’s important to note that imputed income may also be calculated if a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.
Adjusted Gross Income
After determining each parent’s gross income, certain deductions are allowed to calculate the adjusted gross income. Deductions may include federal and state income taxes, Social Security and Medicare taxes, mandatory retirement contributions, and health insurance premiums.
Combined Parental Income
The adjusted gross income of both parents is added together to calculate the combined parental income.
Basic Child Support Obligation
The next step is to determine the basic child support obligation based on the combined parental income and the number of children. Kansas provides a table (Schedule of Basic Child Support Obligations) in the Child Support Guidelines, which outlines the child support amount based on income and the number of children. The table provides a basic monthly support amount for one child and adjusts it for additional children.
Allocation of Child Support
The basic child support obligation is then divided between the parents based on their respective percentages of the combined parental income. For example, if the noncustodial parent’s income represents 60% of the combined income, they could be responsible for 60% of the basic child support obligation.
In addition to the basic child support obligation, the child support order may include provisions for other expenses, such as childcare costs and healthcare premiums. These additional expenses are divided between the parents based on their income percentages.
If the parents share physical custody and the child spends a significant amount of time with both parents, the child support calculation may be adjusted to account for shared parenting time. This can lead to a reduction in the noncustodial parent’s child support obligation.
In some cases, deviations from the standard child support calculation may be considered if there are special circumstances or additional needs, such as extraordinary medical expenses, educational expenses, or disabilities. The court may deviate from the standard guidelines to ensure the child’s best interests are met.
Child Support Worksheet
The state of Kansas provides a Child Support Worksheet, which is a tool used to calculate child support payments based on the guidelines. Parents, attorneys, and courts can use this worksheet to perform the necessary calculations.
Factors That May Affect Child Support Calculations in Kansas
Several factors can affect child support calculations in Kansas. These factors include:
Income of Both Parents
The primary factor in child support calculations is the gross income of both parents. This includes wages, salaries, bonuses, commissions, self-employment income, rental income, and other sources of income. Imputed income may also be considered if a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed.
Number of Children
The number of children involved in the child support order is a critical factor in calculating child support payments. As the number of children increases, the basic child support obligation typically increases.
Childcare expenses, such as daycare or after-school care, may be factored into the child support calculation. These costs are usually shared between the parents based on their income percentages.
Healthcare expenses, including health insurance premiums, co-pays, and uninsured medical expenses, are considered when determining child support. Both parents may be required to contribute to these expenses based on their income shares.
Shared Parenting Time
When parents share physical child custody, and the child spends a significant amount of time with both parents, child support calculations may be adjusted to account for this shared parenting time. In such cases, the noncustodial parent’s child support obligation may be reduced.
Extraordinary expenses, such as educational costs, extracurricular activities, or medical expenses not covered by insurance, may be taken into account. The court may decide how to allocate these expenses between the parents.
Parenting Time Credit
Kansas law allows for a parenting time credit. This means that if the noncustodial parent spends a significant amount of parenting time with the child, their child support obligation may be reduced. The exact credit is based on the number of overnights the child spends with the noncustodial parent.
Income Tax Credits and Deductions
The guidelines account for any tax credits and deductions available to each parent due to the child, such as the Child Tax Credit. These may affect the final child support amount.
Other Children in the Household
If a parent has other children living in their household, it can impact the child support calculation. The guidelines take these other children into account and make adjustments.
For high-income earners, the guidelines may not apply as straightforwardly, and the court may need to assess child support in a manner that ensures the child’s needs are met without excessive financial strain on the noncustodial parent.
When is Child Support Terminated in Kansas?
Here are common situations in which child support may be terminated in Kansas:
- Child Reaches the Age of Majority: In Kansas, child support typically terminates when the child reaches the age of 18. However, if the child is still attending high school on a full-time basis, paying child support can continue until the child completes high school or turns 19, whichever comes first.
- Emancipation: Child support may be terminated if the child becomes emancipated before reaching the age of majority. Emancipation usually involves the child being legally declared as self-sufficient and no longer in need of financial support from their parents.
- Marriage of the Child: If the child gets married before reaching the age of majority, monthly child support may be terminated.
- Active Military Service: If the child enters active military service before reaching the age of majority, child support may be terminated.
- Death of the Child: Tragically, child support obligations terminate if the child passes away.
- Court Order: Child support may be terminated or modified based on a court order that establishes a different termination date, taking into account the specific circumstances of the case.
Notably, child support obligations in Kansas typically do not automatically terminate. Instead, a request or legal action may be necessary to modify, terminate or avoid paying child support. Additionally, child support orders may include provisions for certain expenses, such as college or post-secondary education expenses, which could extend the obligation beyond the child’s age of majority in specific cases.
How to Enforce a Child Support Order in Kansas?
Seek Legal Counsel
If you are having difficulties enforcing a child support order or believe the noncustodial parent is evading their financial responsibilities, consult with an attorney who specializes in family law. They can help you take appropriate enforcement actions to collect child support.
Income Withholding Orders
Income withholding orders are one of the most effective ways to enforce child support. This order requires the noncustodial parent’s employer to withhold child support payments directly from their wages and send the payments to the KPC. To initiate an income withholding order, contact the Kansas Child Support Services (CSS) office through your family law firm attorney.
Contempt of Court
If the noncustodial parent repeatedly fails to make child support payments, you can file a motion for contempt of court. This involves demonstrating to the court that the noncustodial parent is in violation of the court order. If found in contempt, the court can impose penalties, including fines, wage garnishment, or even imprisonment in extreme cases.
In some cases, child support arrears can lead to property liens on the noncustodial parent’s real property or personal assets. These liens can be enforced when the property is sold or transferred. Call the child support call center in Kansas to learn more or speak to a skilled child support lawyer.
FAQs on Child Support Laws in Kansas
Can I Modify Child Support if I Have a Fluctuating Income?
Yes, you can request a modification if you have a fluctuating income. Kansas courts can use an average income over a specific period to address income variability. Be sure to provide documentation supporting your fluctuating income.
What Happens if the Noncustodial Parent Moves to Another State?
If the noncustodial parent moves to another state, Kansas can enforce child support orders through the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). This means that child support orders can be enforced across state lines.
Can Child Support Be Modified for Medical Expenses?
Yes, child support orders can be modified to include provisions for extraordinary medical expenses, such as uninsured medical costs or significant healthcare expenses not covered by insurance.
Is Child Support Taxable Income for the Recipient Parent?
Child support payments are not considered taxable income for the recipient parent in Kansas. They are not included in the recipient’s gross income for tax purposes.
What Happens if the Custodial Parent Relocates?
If the custodial parent relocates, it may impact parenting time arrangements and child support. It is important to notify the other parent and, if necessary, request a modification to address any changes in circumstances.
Can Child Support Be Paid Directly to the Custodial Parent in Kansas?
Child support payments in Kansas are typically processed through the Kansas Payment Center (KPC) to ensure proper record-keeping. However, if both parents agree and the court approves, child support can be paid directly between the parents.
How Does Kansas Handle Child Support for Multiple Families?
Kansas law considers child support orders for multiple families. The guidelines take into account these orders and allocate payments based on the noncustodial parent’s ability to pay.
What Happens if the Noncustodial Parent Loses Their Job?
If the noncustodial parent loses their job, they should promptly seek a child support modification based on the change in circumstances. The court may temporarily adjust child support payments until the parent finds new employment.
Connect With Our Experienced Kansas Child Support Attorneys Today
In a Kansas divorce, working out a child support plan with your child’s other parent may not be as easy as you hoped. To make sure your rights and your child’s best interests are protected, you should have an experienced divorce lawyer on your side. The dedicated Kansas child support lawyers at The Bright Family Law Center are ready to provide you with compassionate and knowledgeable legal representation and will help ensure the best possible outcome in your child support case. To schedule a free and confidential consultation, call us at (913) 239-9966 or contact us online.