Have the Kansas Child Support Guidelines Changed?
In order to receive federal funding for child support enforcement programs, each state must make a periodic review of its Child Support Guidelines, so the Kansas Supreme Court recently adopted new Guidelines.
The Kansas Child Support Guidelines utilize a variety of factors not uniformly recognized in other states. The factors include uninsured medical costs, parenting time, parenting expenses, allocation of income tax exemptions for dependents, payroll differences arising from residence in multiple states, maintenance paid (and received) and child support paid for other children.
Child support is still calculated depending on three major factors: the parents' combined income, the number of children in the family, and the ages of the children. The most important revision to the new Guidelines is the adoption of new age brackets. A new "pre-school" 0-5 age bracket replaces the former 0-6 age bracket. The new "school age" 6-11 age bracket replaces the 7-15 age bracket. A "teenage consumer" 12-18 year old bracket replaces the former 16-18 "high school driver" age bracket.
Slight modifications were made to the Guideline support amounts for each age bracket and family size. There are new exponential factors and multiplication factors for extended income calculations, which still facilitate discretionary child support calculations for high income families.
Is "Shared Custody" still allowed?
Many problems were created when the concept of an "equal or nearly equal" sharing of expenses and time in order to qualify for the shared custody support formula came into play. The Court has reworked the shared expense concept to require court approval of a detailed agreed shared expense plan having only prospective application. The Guidelines provide that the adoption of a new shared residency and expense plan, standing alone, will not constitute a change of circumstances for child support modification purposes.
An important revision to the parenting time adjustment provision now permits an adjustment to be made, in the trial court's discretion, on the basis of actual costs, or by using a time formula.
When are Modifications Allowed?
The Material Changes of Circumstance section was changed to allow the following "automatic trigger" for child support review: When a child is in a higher age group as a result of having passed the child's 6th or 12th birthday, or because the children's age places them in the higher age group as a result in the change in Guidelines. As in previous Guidelines, the enactment of the new child support tables is also a sufficient "change of circumstances," to support a modification of child support if it produces a change of 10% or more in the amount of the child support shown on Line F.3 of the Worksheet.
Various other changes were made: The application of the interstate pay differential adjustment is now discretionary for the trial court. Federal and Kansas income tax values have been updated from 2007 and earlier years. Income tax rates change every year for the next tax year, but the Child Support Guidelines are not updated every year to reflect the changes.
At Ankerholz and Smith in Johnson County, the Kansas Child Support Guideline are studied to determine how changes affect our clients. Each year, we purchase the same computer software used by Kansas District Court judges, so our clients' child support obligations or entitlements are calculated correctly and efficiently.