Answers to questions about child support guidelines
Below are answers to the most frequently asked questions about Kansas Child Support Gudelines. If your question is not answered here, you may want to visit:
Kansas Payment Center
Kansas Child Support Services
Frequently asked questions
What are the Kansas Child Support Guidelines?
They are rules judges and hearing officers follow to decide how much child support each parent is to pay toward raising their children. They guide parents to create a fair and balanced distribution of resources essential to raising children: time and money.
Who is responsible for establishing child support guidelines?
The Kansas Supreme Court is designated by law to establish and review the Kansas Child Support Guidelines.
The Kansas Supreme Court appoints an advisory committee of individuals with experience in child support. Committee members have included judges, attorneys, law professors, accountants, 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 on this website. Minutes, agendas, and reports of the committee are open records and available to the public.
How often does the committee meet?
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 email to firstname.lastname@example.org or U.S. mail to:
Office of Judicial Administration
Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee
301 SW 10th Ave.
Topeka, KS 66612
When is the next meeting of the advisory committee?
Federal law requires that child support guidelines be reviewed every four years. The next review must be complete by January 1, 2024, so the Kansas Child Support Guidelines Advisory Committee will resume meeting in 2022.
Why are the guidelines so complicated?
They were much simpler when they were established in 1987. Since then, the advisory committee and the Supreme Court has 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 parents who are most affected by the guidelines and by the attorneys and judges who apply the rules in court.
What is the economic basis for the guidelines?
The math behind the guidelines is complex and requires understanding power functions, linear equations, and logarithms. An economist's report that explains the math is included in the committee's report to the Supreme Court. For the rest of us, there are a few basic principles and facts that are important to know.
The guidelines are based on how parents spend money on children. To help determine what Kansas parents spend, we look at Expenditures on Children by Families, a periodic report by USDA's Center for Nutrition Policy and Promotion. The report is based on consumer expenditure surveys from the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Regional data cover Kansas, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin.
How is 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 insurance premiums, work-related child care costs, and other adjustments.
Parents pay a proportional share of the obligation based on their child support income. If one parent earns 60% of the parents' combined gross income and the other parent earns 40%, 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 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 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 reduces 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's report, Expenditures on Children by Families, takes 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 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 guidelines fair for families in different circumstances?
Over the years, the 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% 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.
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% on any new order by the 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.