By Melissa H. Doss, Attorney

Child support can be a confusing topic. However, under Kentucky law, both parents have a duty to support their child or children, and both have a right to expect the other parent to assist with support. Child support is a payment made by a noncustodial parent for the care of his or her child. The Kentucky Child Support Program refers to a parent who does not have physical custody of a child or of their children as the noncustodial parent. A non-custodial parent is ordered to provide child and/or medical support for the children. On the other hand, the custodial parent is the person who has physical custody of the child as the custodial parent. Although this is usually a parent, a custodial parent could also refer to a relative or caretaker. A custodial parent is the one that receives the child or children and/or medical support for the child or children.

Anyone who has physical custody of a child and needs assistance establishing the identity of the father of the child, establishing a child support order or collection of current or past due support is eligible to receive child support services. I’m sure everyone wants to know either how much support they will receive or how much they will have to pay. The answer is, it depends. A child support award is figured upon the parents’ gross (before tax) income. Each parent may deduct from their gross income any payments they currently make under a court order for alimony, maintenance or child support. The parents’ combined gross income on the child support chart leads to their combined child support obligation, which is then divided between them in proportion to their income. This is the basic obligation. On top of this obligation, the parents must also share, in the same proportions, the cost of work-related child care and the cost of health insurance for the children. The non-custodial parent pays his or her child support to the custodial parent.  Payment of child support lasts until the child reaches the age of 18 or until high school graduation if the child is still in high school when he or she turns 18.

After child support has been set, the amount can be raised or lowered if either parent has had a “material change” in circumstances, such as losing a job, getting a substantial raise or finding a new, better paying job. Changes to child support will only affect future payments, but I will cover this topic in another article. If you or someone you know is entitled to child support payments and not receiving them or has had a material change in circumstances and may need an adjustment in the child support they are paying, please refer them to Melissa Doss Law, LLC.