Under Kansas law, both parents have a legal duty to support a child financially. State statutory provisions relating to determination of child support are supplemented by the Kansas Child Support Guidelines, adopted by the Kansas Supreme Court. Revised Guidelines that took effect on January 1, 2020, apply to new child support orders issued after that date and to court modifications of existing support orders occurring after the effective date.
If a child’s parents do not live together, the parental obligation to pay support usually results in the parent with primary physical custody receiving support payments from the other parent. Complex rules in Kansas law and the Kansas Child Support Guidelines apply to determining the appropriate amount of child support.
Even if the parents agree on the amount of child support, the agreement must be reviewed by a court and issued as a support order by the court. In reviewing the agreement, the judge will apply the statutory criteria and Guideline rules to determine whether the agreed amount provides for the child’s needs and well-being. The court has authority to change the amount to comply with applicable rules.
The court takes into account all factors relevant to the child’s needs and the parents’ financial circumstances, as detailed in the Guidelines. Each situation is unique, with a broad range of factors that need to be taken into account. A parent facing child support issues should consult with a knowledgeable child support attorney before making a support agreement with the other parent.
Kansas courts may determine child support issues during a divorce case, a child custody case, or in a separate action relating solely to the matter of child support. How and when a court addresses child support depends on the circumstances in each case.
The Kansas Child Support Guidelines are a complex set of rules that establish complicated mathematical methodologies for calculating the amount of child support. The Guidelines apply to court decisions that establish or modify support orders, as well as situations resolved by parental agreement.
Application of the Guidelines begins with completion of a Child Support Worksheet contained in Appendix I of the Guidelines, which provides a calculation of the Net Parental Child Support Calculation. The calculation creates a rebuttable presumption as to the amount of reasonable child support.
A parent may seek adjustment of the calculated amount on the basis that the amount is unjust or inappropriate. A challenging parent has the burden of proving through evidence provided to the court that an adjustment is in the best interest of the child.
Appendix II of the Guidelines includes child support schedules based on national data about average family expenditures for children, based on parental income, the number of children in the family, and the ages of the child. The Guidelines also include detailed, specific criteria for calculating the gross income of a wage earner or self-employed parent for child support purposes.
Under the Guidelines, a judge may impute income to either parent if warranted by the circumstances. Factors for the judge to take into consideration are included in the Guidelines.
The Guidelines also include instructions and procedures for requesting a child support order or asking for modification of an existing order. Any child support court action involves application of complex laws and the detailed provisions of the Guidelines. Consulting with an experienced child support lawyer is the best strategy for any parent considering or facing a court action relating to child support.
A parent may request modification of an existing child support order within three years of the previous order only if the requesting parent shows a “material change in circumstances” since issuance of the order. Changes affecting income that result in a ten percent (10%) or more adjustment of the support amount constitute the required material change. If a support order has been in place for more than three years, a parent requesting modification does not need to show a material change in circumstances.
A court may only modify a support order retroactive to the first day of the month after the modification request was filed. Past support obligations cannot be modified, even if they have not been paid. On account of the retroactivity limitation, a parent whose circumstances change should pursue a modification at the earliest possible time. Assistance from an experienced child support attorney is strongly recommended in this situation.
If you face an issue involving child support, or if you need assistance with any type of domestic or family law issue, our experienced Salina, Kansas domestic and family law attorneys at Hampton & Royce, L.C. are here to help.