The following Kentucky child support overview outlines how a court calculates payments in this state.
It is not intended to provide any sort of legal advice and should not be construed to be such. If you are in need of legal advice on child support or divorce, please contact a Kentucky divorce lawyer.
When a court sets child support for the paying parent, the court will begin the process by looking at the parties’ combined gross monthly income. While it may not seem appropriate that child support is based on the parties’ gross incomes and not their net incomes (also known as their “take home” pay), that is what is required under the current Kentucky child support laws.
To determine income the court will often look not only at recent paystubs, but also tax returns and W-2s for the last couple of years.
It is important to understand that when the court is calculating gross income, this amount includes not only base salary, but bonuses, overtime, and possibly benefits received from an employer that reduce living expenses, such as a work cell phone permitted for personal use or a company car.
In short, anything that the IRS considers income, the court will consider as income, though without the benefit of deductions.
It is also important to note that if the court determines a party is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, then the court can impute income to the party at an amount it deems appropriate.
For example, if you are a doctor who earned a substantial income during the marriage but as soon as your spouse filed for divorce, you quit your job and begin working at a fast food restaurant earning minimum wage, the court does not have to accept that you only earn minimum wage.
The court can look at your earning history to determine what it believes to be your earning potential, and base child support on that amount. This applies to both the paying spouse and the recipient spouse.
Once the court has determined what the combined gross monthly income is, the court will utilize the Kentucky child support laws as defined by statue.
The statutes provide a monthly base child support amount as determined by the number of minor children the parents have in common and the combined gross monthly income. For example, if you have two children and your combined gross monthly income is $7,500, the statutes (presently) dictate that the amount to be $1,324 per month.
Note that this is not the amount that you are required to pay; this is the total amount that the legislature has determined is necessary for the support of the children. The court will then figure out each parent’s proportionate share of the combined gross monthly income.
If you earn $4,500 per month, and your spouse earns $3,000 per month, your proportionate share would be 60% and your spouses would be 40%. Accordingly, you would be required to pay your spouse 60% of the base child support amount (which works out to be $794.40 per month). In addition to this amount, the court will also apportion the costs of work-related childcare and health insurance premiums in proportion to the parties’ incomes.
The above represents the typical scenario for calculating child support in KY.
Courts are required to utilize the child support guidelines unless there are extraordinary circumstances. These can include a child with extraordinary medical or dental needs, a child with extraordinary educational needs, a parent with extraordinary needs (i.e., medical expenses), a child with independent financial resources, etc.
It is also important to note that some courts believe that an equal (or near equal) parenting time schedule is an extraordinary reason to justify deviating from the child support guidelines.
There are many potential caveats to the explanation above. To learn more about KY child support, please consult with an attorney. Cordell & Cordell has offices in Louisville and Florence and its divorce lawyers are licensed to practice throughout the state.