Child support orders are based on the Kansas Child Support Guidelines. In calculating child support, the court considers the gross income of the parents, the number of children in the family, and the age of the children. Other considerations include which parent will be claiming the children for income tax purposes, whether the paying parent has custody of children from his or her other relationships, and whether the paying parent pays court-ordered child support for other children. The following are five commonly encountered myths regarding the calculation and use of child support.
- Step-parents’ income is included in calculating child support. Child support is calculated based on the gross income of both parents, without including the income of the parents’ new spouses. Likewise, the court does not consider whether the parents are providing financial support to step-children.
- The ability (or lack of ability) of a parent to pay child support is considered. The monthly expenses and net income of the parents is not included in calculating child support. Similarly, if a parent is unemployed, the court will calculate child support as though that parent is working full-time at minimum wage. Unless a parent is on disability, the Kansas Child Support Guidelines assume that all parents are capable of earning this wage.
- The parent receiving child support has to spend the money on the children. Parents who are ordered to pay child support often have concerns about how their money is being spent. The parent receiving the child support has no duty to account for how the money is spent, or to spend the money on any particular expense. The parent receiving child support is often ordered to pay all of the direct expenses of the children, such as school enrollment, clothing, etc., but child support can also be used to pay for housing, food, and even car payments.
- Child support should be used to pay medical expenses. The Kansas Child Support Guidelines specifically provide that unreimbursed medical expenses shall be divided by the parents’ proportionate share of income, with each parent contributing to the payment of these expenses.
- Child support orders are final. Child support orders may be modified any time that a material change of circumstances exist for doing so, including the children getting older or the parents’ income changing enough that the child support amount would change by 10%. Kansas sets child support based on which “age bracket” the child is in. If your child recently turned 6 years old or 12 years old, you may be eligible to modify child support.
Cameron & Herrman, P.A., can advise you on whether to file a motion to modify child support. If you believe you may be eligible for a modification, please contact us at (316) 265-0650.