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The Kansas Supreme Court
301 SW 10th Avenue
Topeka Kansas 66612-1507

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Email: info@kscourts.org

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Kansas Child Support Guidelines
Frequently Asked Questions

Office of Judicial Administration staff are prohibited from giving the public legal advice, help with legal research, or help interpreting Kansas Child Support Guidelines. If you have questions about how the guidelines apply to your child support case, contact your attorney.

What are the Child Support Guidelines?
The Kansas Child Support Guidelines are rules judges and hearing officers follow to decide how much child support each parent is to pay toward raising their children. At the most basic level, Child Support Guidelines are rules to guide parents to create a fair and balanced distribution of resources essential to raising children: time and money.

Who is responsible for establishing the Kansas Child Support Guidelines?
The Kansas Supreme Court is designated by law to establish and review the Kansas Child Support Guidelines. In some states it is a function of an executive branch agency and, in others, a function of the state legislature. The Kansas Legislature decided the Kansas Supreme Court is responsible for this in Kansas.

The Kansas Supreme Court appointed an advisory committee made up individuals with considerable experience in child support. Committee members include judges, attorneys, a law professor, an accountant, legislators, and parents. The Supreme Court also uses an independent economist to provide the advisory committee an analysis of economic changes in the state and nation regarding costs and expenditures associated with raising children.

Are meetings and records of the advisory committee open to the public?
Yes. Advisory committee meeting dates are published in the Kansas Register. Minutes, agendas, and reports of the committee are open records and available to the public.

Federal law requires that every state's child support guidelines be reviewed every four years, and it takes about two years to conduct the review.

The best way to communicate with the committee is by e-mail to Mark Gleeson at gleesonm@kscouts.org. Messages received at this address are usually forwarded to the committee the same day they are received. Anyone who has comments may also write to:

Office of Judicial Administration
Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee
301 SW 10th Street
Topeka, Kansas 66612

Why are the Child Support Guidelines so complicated?
The Kansas Child Support Guidelines were much simpler when they were first established in 1987. Since then, the advisory committee and the Supreme Court listened to parents, judges, and attorneys, and added rules that allow judges to consider many special circumstances before ordering child support obligations. Every rule is intended to make the guidelines fair to all parties, easy to understand, and applicable to the many special circumstances that exist for parents and children. The guidelines' complexity are a direct response to feedback from the parents who are most impacted by the guidelines and by the attorneys and judges who apply the rules in court.

Please explain the economic basis for the Child Support Guidelines.
The math behind the Child Support Guidelines is complex and requires understanding power functions, linear equations, and logarithms. An economist's report that explains the math is available in the committee's final report to the Supreme Court. For the rest of us, there are a few basic principles and facts that are important to know.

The Kansas Child Support Guidelines are based on how parents spend money on children. Determining how much parents spend on children can be found in the "Expenditures on Children by Families", prepared by the United States Department of Agriculture. This annual report is available at http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/CRC/crc2009.pdf. These reports use consumer expenditure surveys from the United States Department of Labor's Bureau of Labor Statistics and is a key element in the Kansas Child Support Schedules. The surveys were completed by 11,800 husband-wife households and 3,350 single parent households in 2005-2006 and updated to current dollars using the regional consumer price index. Regional data is available in the report. Kansas is in the Midwest region along with Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin. Also see reports produced by Economists William T. Terrell, Ph.D. and Jodi Messer Pelkowski, Ph.D. on the Kansas Child Support Guidelines web site.

How child support determined for each parent?
Child support obligations are the final determination of how much each parent owes toward total child support. Many variables go into this figure, starting with gross income of both parents. Reasonable business expenses, child support obligations for other children, and court ordered maintenance in other cases are subtracted, and income from court ordered maintenance is added. The result is referred to as the parent's child support income. Using this combined child support income, refer to the schedules and round up to the nearest dollar amount. Find the appropriate table for the number of children in the family and their ages; add the total, if there is more than one child, and the result is a gross child support obligation. From there, parents add or subtract for items such as health and dental premiums, work related child care costs, and other adjustments that will be discussed later.

Parents pay a proportional share of the obligation based on their child support income. If one parent earns 60 percent of their combined gross income and the other parent earns 40 percent, then their child support obligation will be shared 60-40.

Income earned by a new spouse or other relationship is not considered income. Income from public assistance and child support received for other children in the residence is not considered part of the gross income.

Do the guidelines take into account that parents have two households to take care of the children?
Yes. The Supreme Court and the Child Support Advisory Committee recognize the difficult financial challenges most parents face following a separation. Often, money is tight before a divorce and establishing a second home adds to that strain.

In 2004, the Kansas Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee adopted a recommendation from the economist to account for the establishment and maintenance of two homes. This reduction is called the dissolution factor and continues to be present in the child support schedules. Currently, the dissolution factor reduced the child support schedules at all income levels starting at $228.24 at the poverty level up to $324.68 at the highest income levels. This reduction is shared proportionately by both parents to recognize the expense of establishing and maintaining two households.

Why does the Child Support Worksheet start with gross income for both parents instead of net or after tax income?
First, the USDA Expenditures on Children take taxes into account as an expenditure. Second, there are many ways an individual can artificially reduce income so that a net income, or take home pay, becomes a less reliable statement of income than gross income.

But what if I have a unique tax situation?
Everyone has circumstances that are different. The Kansas Child Support Guidelines give parents a variety of options to account for unique or unusual tax circumstances. In addition to an income tax adjustment, judges and attorneys have rulings by Kansas appellate courts that provide direction to account for certain personal and business taxes.

What makes the Child Support Guidelines fair for families in very different circumstances?
Over the years, the Kansas Supreme Court has created several ways to consider special circumstances of parents or a child. First, Kansas uses an expenditure-based formula derived from a detailed analysis of how families at different income levels spend money on their children. The Kansas Child Support Schedules start with the gross monthly income for both parents. Each parent may subtract for items such as reasonable business expenses, court ordered child support, or maintenance. Court ordered maintenance is added to the parent's income.

In addition to these adjustments, the Supreme Court has authorized adjustments if the child spends more than 35 percent of his or her time with the nonresidential parent, if either parent incurs expenses due to long-distance parenting time, if the parents do not share income tax deductions, if the child has special needs, if parents agree to support a child past the age of majority, and a general category that allows the court to consider the parents' overall financial condition. This last category, overall financial condition, is meant to apply to circumstances that don't fit any of the other categories.

When will the Kansas Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee resume meeting?
The Kansas Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee is expected to resume meetings in April 2016. All Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee meetings are open to the public. Meetings are held at the Kansas Judicial Center, 301 S.W. 10th Ave., Topeka, Kansas.

Currently Scheduled Meetings:
     April 22, 2016
     May 20, 2016
     June 24, 2016
     July 22, 2016

The next federally required review is expected to begin in early 2018. Revisions to the Kansas Child Support Guidelines are not required until January 1, 2020.

If my child support has already been determined, will changes to the guidelines change my child support obligation?
Not automatically. Every child support obligation can be reviewed at least once every three years. If you believe your child support obligation would increase or decrease by more than 10 percent on any new order by the Kansas Supreme Court, or on an unrelated change of your circumstance, you may be eligible to return to court on a "change of circumstances," even if three years has not elapsed.

Submitting comments and questions to the committee
Questions or comments are welcome and may be submitted to the advisory committee via email to gleeson@kscourts.org or by writing to:

Office of Judicial Administration
Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee
301 SW 10th Street
Topeka, Kansas 66612