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Child Support in Kentucky
To discuss the status of your child support payments through the Jefferson County Attorney, contact:
Child Support Division

315 W. Muhammad Ali Boulevard
Louisville, Kentucky  40202
Phone:  502-574-8300
English/Spanish Voice Response System:  (502) 574-8599

Calculation of Child Support Obligations:

Child support in Kentucky is calculated pursuant to the Kentucky Revised Statute 403.212.

In Kentucky, child support obligations are established and/or modified using a statutorily established set of guidelines. According to KRS 403.211, obligations are to be set in accordance with the guidelines table unless extraordinary circumstances exist. Extraordinary situations are to be handled at the discretion of the court.

The Kentucky Child Support Enforcement office provides all the information and forms you need to do a rough calculation of child support obligations in your situation.  See http://csws.chfs.ky.gov/csws/General/EstimateDisclaimer.aspx for on-line help with doing rough calculations of child support obligations in your specific case.

To determine the amount of child support obligations, Kentucky relies upon the Child Support Guidelines set out in KRS 403.212 to calculate each parent's child support bligation. Those Guidelines use the income of both parents, factors in other expenses such as medical insurance, maintenance payments, child care, and support for prior born children.

The Child Support Guidelines is then used to complete child support calculations, applying the parties' combined joint monthly incomes (adjusted by their contributions toward health insurance, maintenance payments, child care expenses, support for older children from other relationships, etc.).  See http://chfs.ky.gov/dis/cse.htm for help with that Table.

Children of High-Income Parents are an Exception to the Kentucky Child Support Guidelines:

If you look at the child support chart contained in KRS 403.212, you'll notice that the Guidelines max out at a combined income for both parents of $15,000 per month (that's $180,000 per year).

So, what happens in cases where the parents make more than $15,000?  Then the Court has the option of deviating from the Child Support Guidelines, taking into consideration the needs of the children and their usual standard of living.

Children of parents with high incomes have the same "essential needs" as other children (food, shelter, clothing, etc.) but with a higher income level comes a higher price tag for providing those "essentials". Not only is your housing expense higher but so are your grocery bills, your utilities, your clothing costs, your education costs and most every other expense that parents encounter. By the same token, children of high-income parents will have expenses that other families might not need to consider (private school tuition, riding lessons, school uniforms, tutoring, gifts for others, clothing, allowances, jewelry, etc.).  Genuine "special needs" of a child can also be a factor.

If you, your spouse and your children have enjoyed a high standard of living in the past, you should be entitled to continue to have a similar standard in the future -- assuming adequate income exists to finance that standard of living. Most certainly, your children should not be living in Section VIII housing when they are with one parent but in the "High Rent District" when they are with the other parent. This is the Court's only way to equalize income disparity between the parties.

The Court's standard Verified Disclosure Statement does not adequately address the unique financial requirements and spending habits of a "high-income family". Further, that standard Disclosure does not include a lot of items that your family probably incurs on a regular basis (country club dues, second home expenses, pool maintenance, fur storage, etc.). For that reason, the standard Disclosure is not truly suitable for your situation.  You may have to supplement that Disclosure with solid documentation of the kind of expenses which are routine for high-income families.

Remember, under-estimating is as dangerous to your case as over-estimating your expenses. Back-up documentation of these costs will be very important to your case. You will be required to substantiate your claim for these expenses. But, there's little the other side can say when you're able to counter with "I know that is the correct amount because I added up the canceled checks for last year and divided by 12 months".


Your Parenting Schedule Can Impact Your Entitlement to or Obligation to Pay Child Support:

It is possible that an equal or near-equal timesharing arrangement for the parenting of your children should be a key element in establishing the child support in your case.  A deviation from the KRS 403.212 Child Support Guidelines on the basis of the parties' parenting schedule is quite complicated.  We'd be happy to talk to you about your situation.


Modification of Child Support (Increases and Decreases):

KRS 403.213 regulates how and under what circumstances a parent's child support obligation can be changed, amended, modified or altered.  In order to apply for modification, one must file a motion affirming that the requested change will result in a net change of at least 15 percent.  That means the change in financial circumstances has to increase or decrease the paying parent's monthly child support obligation by at least fifteen percent (15%).

Also, the change in one or both parents' financial circumstances must be "substantial and continuing".  In other words, if a parent gets a lot of overtime the week of Thanksgiving but generally doesn't get much overtime work, then the change might be "substantial" but it is not "continuing" because it is a sporadic event.  If a parent gets a big raise or promotion, then his/her increase in gross salary would likely be considered "substantial and continuing".  Another example of a "substantial and continuing change in circumstances" might be a child no longer attending preschool or daycare and that expense no longer being incurred.

Once a motion is filed with the Court and a hearing is held to determine the facts, the Court can order that a parent's child support obligation is changed.  HOWEVER, that change cannot be retroactive any earlier than the filing of the parent's motion for modification.  So if there's been a "substantial and continuing change in circumstances", it is probably in your best interest to seek legal representation to make the case for modifying the child support obligation in your case.

Termination of Child Support:

KRS 403.213(3) provides for circumstances in which a parent's child support obligation can be terminated:

"Unless otherwise agreed in writing or expressly provided in the decree, provisions for the support of a child shall be terminated by emancipation of the child unless the child is a high school student when he reaches the age of eighteen (18). In cases where the child becomes emancipated because of age, but not due to marriage, while still a high school student, the court-ordered support shall continue while the child is a high school student, but not beyond completion of the school year during which the child reaches the age of nineteen (19) years. Provisions for the support of the child shall not be terminated by the death of a parent obligated to support the child. If a parent obligated to pay support dies, the amount of support may be modified, revoked, or commuted to a lump-sum payment, to the extent just and appropriate in the circumstances. Emancipation of the child shall not terminate the obligation of child support arrearages that accrued while the child was an unemancipated minor."

In other words, the parties are free to make other arrangements but, generally, when a child turns 18 and is no longer in high school, the duty to provide child support ends.

  • If the child is 18 and in his/her senior year, then the child support obligation continues until the end of the current school year.
  • If the child is 18 and has not yet entered his/her senior year of high school, then the child support obligation continues, but not past his/her 19th birthday. 
  • If the child is under 18 and gets married, then the child support obligation ends.
  • If the child is under 18 and joins the military, then the child support obligation ends.
  • If the child is under 18 and is legally declared "emancipated" by a Court, then the child support obligation ends.
  • If a parent obligated to pay child support should die, then he/she may have a claim against the deceased parent's estate for unpaid child support through reaching the age of majority or becoming emancipated.
  • In the event of the death of a child, child support obligations would also terminate and, if there are other minor children still living, then a recalculation of child support would be appropriate.

Termination of a parent's parental rights can terminate that person's obligation to pay child support; however, termination of those parental rights does not relieve the obligated parent from child support arrearages which may have accrued.

Further, the Courts are very, very reluctant to terminate any parent's parental rights unless there is another adult "waiting in the wings" to adopt the minor child.  For instance, in the case of a step-parent ready and willing to take on the financial obligation of support the child or children.

Termination of parental rights is, in fact, rather rare as the Courts do not wish to severe a natural parent's bond and connection with a child and further do not want to allow a parent to walk away from his/her obligation to provide financial support for his/her offspring.

Enforcement and Collection of Child Support:

For information about enforcement and collection of child support obligations owed to you, visit the website of the Kentucky Child Support Enforcement Commission.

If you live in Jefferson County, Kentucky, and someone owes you back child support, you need to contact:

Jefferson County Attorney's
Child Support Division
315 W. Muhammad Ali Boulevard
Louisville, Kentucky  40202
Phone:  502-574-8300
English/Spanish Voice Response System:  (502) 574-8599

The Jefferson County Attorney administers the largest child support division in Kentucky, with approximately 64,000 active case, $77,000,000 annually in collections (one-quarter of the state's total), eight full-time Child Support Detectives to serve those who apply for services.

Services Available from the Jefferson County Attorney's Child Support Division include:

  • Location of non-custodial parents
  • Establishment of paternity
  • Establishment of financial and medical support
  • Enforcement and collection of support payments
  • Enforcement of medical support
  • Review and modification of support orders, which either parent may request

Federal Resources re Child Support:

The U.S. Department of Health & Human Services has a division known as the Administration for Children and Families <http://www.acf.hhs.gov>.  The mission of this agency is to "enhance the well-being of children by assuring that assistance in obtaining support, including financial and medical, is available to children through locating parents, establishing paternity, establishing support obligations, and monitoring and enforcing those obligations."

Among the resources available from the ACF are:

Child Support Enforcement Office
Federal Parent Locator Service
Frequently Asked Questions about Child Support Collection/Distribution
Frequently Asked Questions about Child Custody
Frequently Asked Questions about Child Support Enforcement
Frequently Asked Questions for Non-Custodial Parents
Frequently Asked Questions about Child Support Orders
Frequently Asked Questions about Paternity
Frequently Asked Questions about Child Support and Tax Refunds

Return to our main Custody & Visitation page to learn more about child custody, visitation and parenting schedules