Every divorce case in Kansas which involves child custody must include a child support order. Child support is the child's right and cannot be waived, even by agreement of the parties.
The Kansas Child Support Guidelines consist of more than 90 pages. This is not the forum through which to get into a great deal of detail. Basic questions regarding Child Support in Kansas, however, are set forth below.
Will I have to pay child support? (or Will I receive child support?)
A Kansas child support worksheet will need to be adopted by the Court in any case involving child custody. The purpose of child support is to provide for the needs of the child and to allow the child (as best as possible) to live the same lifestyle he or she would have lived but for the parents separating
What are the main figures used to determine the amount of child support?
The formula depends on the following figures: each party's domestic gross income (with additions or deductions made related to the amount each party may pay or receive for maintenance), work-related child care costs and health insurance premiums paid for the children. The age of the children, the number of children and whether one of the parties is ordered to pay child support for another child are all issues that will affect the amount of child support that will be ordered.
What are some adjustments that can be made to reduce child support?
An adjustment can be made pertaining to expenses directly related to long distances a parent may need to travel to exercise his or her parenting time. This can be a direct reduction based on actual expenses incurred or a month-to-month deduction.
If a parent has the child 35%-39% of the time, this will usually result in a 5% reduction of the parties' child support. If the percentage of time is 40%-44%, the reduction is usually 10%, and if it is between 45%-49% of the time, it is usually a 15% reduction.
If the non-residential parent has the child during in any one month for 14 or more consecutive days, the support amount for that particular month can be reduced. Likewise, if a party does not exercise his or her parenting time, this can result in an adjustment the other way.
If a child has special needs resulting in expenses above the usual and ordinary, such as health issues, special education needs or counseling costs, these expenses can be considered by the Court. Further, if a child is involved in activities such as a traveling sports team or by agreement of the parties is enrolled in a specialized or private school, these expenses can be considered, as well.
Other adjustments can be made. This is not an exhaustive list.
I have 50-50 residential custody of my children with my ex, does this affect how much I should pay?
In those cases where the Court has approved equal (or nearly equal) parenting time, three basic options exist. The first option is set forth above: the non-residential parent (the parent with less than 50% of the parenting time), can ask for a parenting time adjustment of 15%. The other two options are described below: the Kansas Shared Expense Formula; and the Kansas Equal Parenting Time Formula.
What is the Kansas Shared Expense Formula for child support?
This should be attempted only by parents who get along well enough to discuss finances and are somewhat organized.
The parties must agree to a detailed, written agreement to share in the direct expenses of their child on an equal or nearly equal basis. These expenses include such things as extra-curricular activities, clothing and education expenses. Food, housing and utilities are not direct expenses that should be considered in the agreement.
Despite this "detailed, written agreement," a child support worksheet still needs to be approved by the Court.
Out-of-pocket health expenses are to be shared on a pro rata basis, as set forth in the parties' child support worksheet.
The agreed direct expenses should be split on a 50-50 basis. This is the "heart" of the Formula. The parties need to agree to exchange receipts every 60 or 90 days (or some other period of time agreed to by the parties). The party that paid less for direct expenses for the child needs to pay 50% of the difference within 30 days of the exchange.
The parties need to agree that in the event there is a disagreement they will submit their dispute (or disputes) to a mediator before bringing their grievances to the Court.
What is the Kansas Equal Parenting Time Formula for child support?
This Formula was not available in Kansas until April 2012. The formula is supposed to eliminate the need for parties to exchange receipts.
Usually, the party with the lower gross monthly income will be the party receiving the child support and thus will also be the party responsible for all direct expenses related to the child.
As a general rule, the Equal Parenting Time Formula results in a child support payment far less than the 15% parenting time adjustment described above. The formula is found in section III.B.7.b of the Kansas Child Support Guidelines and is set forth here:
The Equal Parenting Time Formula calculation shall consist of three steps:
Step 1: A child support worksheet shall be prepared. The amount of the lower adjusted subtotal on Line F.3 shall be subtracted from the higher adjusted subtotal on Line F.3. The resulting figure shall be divided by two and shall constitute the first portion.
Choose either Step 2.a. or 2.b. depending on whether the parents have a written agreement that they each provide clothing for the child in their own home.
Step 2.a: Absent a written agreement for each parent to provide the child’s clothing in their own home, the Line D.3., child support obligation amount, will be multiplied by one of the following percentages:
13% if total combined monthly child support income on Line D.1. is equal to or less than $4,690;
15% if total combined monthly child support income on Line D.1. is more than $4,690 and less than $8,125;
18% if total combined monthly child support income on Line D.1. is equal to or greater than $8,125, or:
Step 2.b: Parents have a written agreement to each provide clothing for the child in their own home, the Line D.3 child support obligation figure will be multiplied by one of the following percentages:
11% if total combined monthly child support income on Line D.1 is equal to or less than $4,690;
13% if total combined monthly child support income on Line D.1 is more than $4,690 and less than $8,125;
16% if total combined monthly child support income on Line D.1. is equal to or greater than $8,125, or;
Choose either Step 3.a or 3.b. depending on which parent is designated to pay the direct expenses for the child.
Step 3.a: If the parent with the lower adjusted subtotal from Line F.3 of the child support worksheet (the parent receiving support) is responsible for paying all direct expenses of the child, the resulting figure from Step 1 shall be added to the resulting figure from either Step 2.a or Step 2.b. This result shall be the amount the higher income parent pays to the lower income parent before the child support enforcement fee is calculated. This amount is entered on Line F.4 of the child support worksheet. The Equal Parenting Time worksheet, or a worksheet in substantially the same form, shall be filed with the child support worksheet.
Step 3.b: If the parent with the higher adjusted subtotal from Line F.3 (the parent paying support) is responsible for paying all direct expenses of the child, the resulting figure from either Step 2.a or Step 2.b shall be subtracted from the resulting figure from Step 1. This result, which shall not be less than zero, shall be the amount the higher income parent pays to the lower income parent before the child support enforcement fee is calculated. This amount is entered on Line F.4 of the child support worksheet. The Equal Parenting Time worksheet, or a worksheet in substantially the same form, shall be filed with the child support worksheet.
Using the following figures: two children ages 14 and 6, husband earning $100,000 annually; wife earning $30,000 annually; husband paying $100 per month for health insurance premiums on the children; both parties maintaining clothes for the children at their residence; and nothing else (no other adjustments made), using the 15% parenting time adjustment, husband would owe wife $1,476.
Using the Equal Parenting Time Formula, the monthly support owed would be $959 (a difference of $517 per month). (Incidentally, if the parties had not agreed in writing to maintain clothes at their respective houses, the monthly support obligation using the Equal Parenting Time Formula would increase to $1,005).
The above example is crude, as most cases involve more analysis than that set forth above, but it makes the point: from a pure economics standpoint, if you are not the primary custodial parent for the children, it pays to have equal (or nearly equal) parenting time. Of course the basis for the determination of parenting time should begin and end with what is in the best interests of the children. Unfortunately, since April 2012, this practitioner has seen more and more cases where the "tail is wagging the dog," and the motivation for an increase in parenting time in a Decree of Divorce or in a post-divorce parenting plan modification proceeding seems to be the affect the plan will have on child support.
Contact Copley Roth and Davies for assistance in all of your family law matters. We are experienced in divorce, custody modification, child support, guardianship, and adoption.
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