09 Mar Kentucky House Bill Aims to Recalculate Child Support

UPDATE: The General Assembly has now amended House Bill 415 to eliminate ALL provisions related to time sharing. In essence, the child support amount would stay tied to a system of a primary residential parent despite the changes in custody law which moved away from a primary custodian that were enacted last year. The current version represents a step backward for the state. Stay tuned. Or watch the changes at https://apps.legislature.ky.gov/record/19rs/hb415.html#HCS1.

With Frankfort’s current attention to education matters dominating the press, a Kentucky bill on child support has gotten lost in the shuffle. The legislation, which would modify the Kentucky child support for tens of thousands of citizens, has already passed the House and is currently being considered in the Senate.

All experts agree that some change is necessary. Last summer, there was a change in custody and parenting time that has far-reaching effects. That law mandates that the Court begin with a presumption in favor of joint legal custody and equal (or 50/50) parenting time. However, there were no changes in the child support laws, leaving many in the dark on how to apply the old child support law based on a primary custodian in this new era.

The traditional Child Support Guidelines would apply in instances of a traditional parenting plan with a residential custodian. The new legislation under consideration would create a tiered system. If a parent has between 109 and 145 days of parenting time, the court would have the option to deviate from the child support chart. If a parent has at least 146 days of parenting time, the Court will be required to deviate from the chart. In any case of deviation from the Guidelines, the Court would be required to make certain factual findings related to the parties.

In both of the above instances, the Court would be instructed to use the Colorado method with respect to child support calculations. This method has been used informally by many judges and lawyers over the past decade but has not been codified in Kentucky law. Briefly, this method would calculate child support owed by multiplying the base child support amount by 1.5, and then dividing that total by the percentage of custody time for each parent. Under this new system, child support will definitely be less predictable than it is currently.

The legislation also seeks to amend the dollar figures in the chart. Under Kentucky law, it is required that these amounts be reviewed by the Child Support Commission on a regular basis; however, that has not occurred in many years.

We believe that some change is absolutely necessary, but whether these changes will be equitable remains to be seen. The legislation, sponsored by Representative Melinda Prunty of Hopkins County, has had very little input from Family Court Judges or domestic relations lawyers. Keep an eye on our Blog to find out more about how the legislation shakes out. As always, we welcome your calls with questions here at Helmers + Associates.