How Does Child Support Work After A Divorce In Kansas?
Parents financially support their children after a divorce through child support. Child support is used to pay for and provide for the needs of a child, this includes direct expenses of the child and indirect expenses.
Direct expenses include fixed expenses paid to a third party, i.e., any costs associated with attending school, participating in extracurricular activities, clothing, school events, etc. Indirect expenses are expenses that benefit the minor child, but are not paid directly for his or her personal needs. This would include food for the children, transportation, housing, utilities, etc. Indirect expenses are usually not shared between the parties.
Typically, child support is paid to the custodial parent (the parent that the child spends the majority of his or her time with) by the non-custodial parent. In some instances, the custodial parent makes far more money than the non-custodial parent and will ask if the parties can agree not to pay support, as the custodial parent does not need the money. The answer is always “no” and the reason is always the same. Support cannot be waived by either party because it is not the party’s right to receive the support, but the support should be used for the child. If a party does not need the money to use towards the child’s direct or indirect expenses, then the party can put the money in a savings account for the child, or come up with some other way to use the money to the benefit of the child, but support cannot be waived.
When determining how much money in child support the non-custodial parent will be ordered to pay, several elements are considered. These elements are included in a “child support worksheet”. A child support worksheet is a financial snap-shot that shows the court what each parties income is, the presumed support amounts for each child based on his or her age, work-related child care costs, health, dental, and vision insurance premiums, and then any of several possible child support adjustments.
When determining a party’s income for child support purposes the court looks at the party’s domestic gross income and excludes any income from public assistance, child support received on behalf of other children. VA Disability, Social Security Disability, any other private disability payment a party receives, and maintenance received in the current case will be counted as income for child support purposes (maintenance paid in in the current case will be deduced from the income of the payor). For a self-employed parent, his or her income for support purposes is calculated be taking his or her domestic gross income less reasonable business expenses. If a party has no income, the court may impute income to either party when it is appropriate. According to the Johnson County Child Support Guidelines, absent substantial justification, it should be assumed that a parent is able to earn at least the federal minimum wage and to work 40 hours per week. There are many rules that pertain to imputation of wages to a parent. If this is something that applies to you specifically, you should discuss it in more detail with your attorney.
One of the most commonly utilized child support adjustments is used when the parties share equal or nearly equal time and expenses of the child. The use of this adjustment is discretionary with the court and can result in a reduction of child support by up to 50 percent. If time is shared equal or nearly equal, then the parties can participate in a shared expense plan, where no formal child support is typically exchanged between the parties, and instead each of the child’s direct expenses is split in half by the parties. If the parties are not in a position where this is feasible, then the parties can use an equal parenting time formula when calculating support. This will reduce the paying spouse’s child support obligation to account for the equal or nearly equal amount of time the child is with that parent. Using a shared expense plan or the equal parenting time formula is not always in the best interests of the child, and the courts do not have to allow the parties to use this method when determining child support amounts.
Work related child care costs are imputed into the child support worksheet and then shared between the parties. Sometimes, parties will decide to leave work-related child care costs off the child support worksheet and instead work together to make sure the child care costs are covered. This becomes practical when the child is not in consistent child care and the cost of child care is variable from month to month. If the parties make similar incomes and get along well, splitting the child care costs at the end of the month directly in half, can make good sense.
Based on many different factors, child support can be adjusted up or down. Some of these factors can include: the distance the parties live from one another, the parenting time each party exercises, income tax considerations, the special needs of a child, and the overall financial condition of the parties. If the court finds that any of these adjustments are appropriate, they can be implemented into the child support worksheet and a deviation can be made from the presumptively correct amount of child support.
Once a party is ordered to pay support in Kansas, he or she is required to make support payments through the Kansas Support Center. Parties can agree to make payments directly to one another for good cause shown, and a judge must agree that good cause has indeed been shown before he or she will sign off on direct payments. A benefit of direct payments is that the parties do not have to pay an enforcement fee associated with Kansas Payment Center.
Child support is a complex issue including a vast number of moving parts. If you have a specific question about child support, please give our office a call and one of our attorneys can help walk you through the process in more detail.
Get your questions answered - call me for your free, 20-minute phone consultation (913) 451-9500.