Child Support Overview
In Kentucky, a guidelines table is used to determine how much a non-custodial parent should pay in child support. The guidelines take into account (a) the number of children who are the subject of the pending action; and (b) the combined monthly adjusted parental gross income. The child support obligation set forth in the child support guidelines table is divided between the parents in proportion to their combined monthly adjusted parental gross income. “Gross income” means income from any and all sources, with a few exceptions. “Combined monthly adjusted parental gross income” is the combined monthly gross income of both parents less certain payments made by a parent such as (a) maintenance being paid to prior spouses and maintenance ordered in the current proceeding; and (b) child support being paid for prior-born children;
In addition to the amount ordered under the child support guidelines, the Court will also allocate between the parents, in proportion to their combined monthly adjusted parental income, the cost of health care insurance coverage for the child and the reasonable and necessary child care costs incurred due to employment, job search, or education leading to employment.
Child Support Deviation
Courts generally adhere to the guidelines, but are permitted to deviate from the guidelines when their application would be unjust or inappropriate. A court may adjust the guideline obligation based on one or more of the following criteria:
1. Extraordinary medical/dental needs of the child;
2. Extraordinary educational, job training, or special needs of the child;
3. Extraordinary needs, such medical expenses, of either parent;
4. A child’s independent financial resources;
5. Combined monthly adjusted parental gross income in excess of the Kentucky child support guidelines;
6. The parents of the child agree to child support different from the guideline amount;
7. Any similar factor, extraordinary in nature, identified by the Court which would make application of the guidelines inappropriate. (For example, some courts, but not all, consider substantial parenting time from the paying spouse to be a reason to deviate from the guidelines.)
In setting child support, a Court may impute income to a party it finds to be voluntarily unemployed or underemployed., McKinney v. McKinney, [Ky. App., 257 S.W.3d 130, 134 (2008)]. KRS 403.212(2)(d) provides that “[i]f a parent is voluntarily unemployed or underemployed, child support shall be calculated based on a determination of potential income….Potential income shall be determined based upon employment potential and probable earnings level based on the obligor's or obligee's recent work history, occupational qualifications, and prevailing job opportunities and earnings levels in the community….” However, the Court will not determine potential income of a parent who is caring for a child three (3) years old or younger for whom the parents owe a joint legal responsibility.