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

Office of Judicial Administration
Telephone:
 785.296.2256
Fax:  785.296.7076
Email: info@kscourts.org

Appellate Clerk's Office
Telephone:
 785.296.3229
Fax:  785.296.1028
Email: appellateclerk@kscourts.org


Kansas Child Support Guidelines
Frequently Asked Questions

Staff of the Office of Judicial Administration are prohibited from giving the public legal advice, research assistance, or aid in interpreting the Kansas Child Support Guidelines.  If you have questions regarding how the Guidelines apply in your child support case, please 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, the Child Support Guidelines are rules intended to guide parents as they work to create a fair and balanced distribution of two 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 other states it is an Executive Branch agency, such as the Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services (SRS), and in a few states it is the legislature. The Kansas Legislature decided that, for Kansas, the Kansas Supreme Court would be responsible for this.

The Kansas Supreme Court has appointed an advisory committee made up individuals with considerable experience in child support. These 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 the nation regarding the costs and expenditures associated with raising children.

Are meetings and records of the advisory committee open to the public?
Yes. Meetings of the advisory committee are published in the Kansas Register. Minutes, agendas, and reports of the committee are also open records and available to the public. Federal law requires that every state's child support guidelines be reviewed every four years. It takes approximately two years to conduct the review. The best way to communicate with the committee is by e-mail to kansascsg@kscourts.org. Messages received at this address are usually forwarded to the committee the same day they are received. Anyone wishing to comment may also write to the following address:

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 that time, 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. It's fair to say that 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 complexity of the guidelines is 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 exact math behind the Child Support Guidelines is complex and requires an understanding of power functions, linear equations, and logarithms. An economist's report with details of the math can be found in the index and will be included 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, 2009", (http://www.cnpp.usda.gov/Publications/CRC/crc2009.pdf) an annual report prepared by the United States Department of Agriculture. This report uses Consumer Expenditure Surveys from the United States Department of Labor, Bureau of Labor Statistics and is a key element in the Kansas Child Support Schedules. These surveys were completed by 12,850 husband-wife households and 3,395 single parent households in 1990-92 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 Determining the 2006 Child Support Schedules by William T. Terrell and Jodi Messer Pelkowski, Economists.

How is the child support obligation determined for each parent?
Child support obligations are the final determination of how much each parent owes toward the total child support. Many variables go into this figure starting with the 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 in. The result is referred to as the parent's child support income. Using this combined child support income, go to the schedules and round up to the nearest dollar amount on the schedule. 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 which will be discussed later.

Parents pay a proportional share of the obligation based on their child support income. If one parent earns 60% of their combined gross income and the other parent earns 40%, then their child support obligation will be shared 60% and 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 to provide 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 times, money is tight before a divorce and establishing a second household only makes things worse.

During the review that led to the creation of the guideline, effective January 1, 2004, the Kansas Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee adopted a recommendation from the economist to recognize a reduction to account for the establishment and maintenance of two homes. This reduction, already present in the child support schedules, is called the dissolution factor. The dissolution factor reduced the child support schedules at all income levels starting at $181.81 at the poverty level up to $336.28 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 takes taxes into account as an expenditure on children. 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 my tax situation is unique?
Not everyone's circumstances are identical. The Kansas Child Support Guidelines give parents a variety of options including an adjustment to account for unique or unusual tax circumstances. In addition to the income tax adjustment, judges and attorneys have rulings by the Kansas Appellate Courts that provide direction on how 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 the parents or the child. First, it's important to always keep in mind that Kansas uses an expenditures-based formula derived from a detailed analysis of how families at many 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% of his or her time with the non-residential 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.

 

Existing Child Support Guidelines are currently under review by the Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee.
All Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee meetings are open to the public. Meetings are typically held at the Kansas Judicial Center, Topeka, Kansas.

Currently Scheduled Meetings:
     September 24, 2010
     October 22, 2010
     January 28, 2011
     February 25, 2011
     March 25, 2011
     April 22, 2011
     May 27, 2011

Copies of minutes approved by the committee are available online.

Final recommendations are expected to be delivered to the Kansas Supreme Court in August of 2011. The advisory committee will take comments on the proposed changes in late 2010 or early 2011. The Supreme Court is expected to make a determination on any changes to the Child Support Guidelines in time for a new order to be issued with an effective date of January 1, 2012.

If my child support has already been determined, will the changes in the guidelines change my child support obligation?
Not necessarily. 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% on any new order adopted by the Kansas Supreme Court or on an unrelated change of your circumstance, you may be eligible to return to court as a result of 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 the following address:

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