Child Support can be one of the most important issues in family court. In some cases, its calculation is merely fourth grade math. In others, the computation of child support requires years of experience and the deft touch of a skilled family court litigator. In nearly every case, having support calculated correctly is paramount. The setting and, in many instances, the collection of child support can mean a difference in the quality of life for both parents. Differences of a few dollars a day can translate to tens of thousands of dollars over the course of a child’s life. Having experienced counsel with you makes all the difference in the world.
In the majority of cases in Kentucky, child support is set pursuant to a formula. This formula is known to lawyers and family court as the “Guidelines.” The Kentucky Guidelines are based on the “income shares” theory, meaning thata child should receive as child support the same proportion of parental income that he or she would have received if the Parties lived together as an intact, two-parent family.The factors for use are the parent’s income, health insurance costs for the children, amounts paid for prior born children, and work related daycare costs.To calculate child support under the Guidelines of KRS 403.212, the combined monthly adjusted parental gross income is located on the child support Guidelines table and then the corresponding monthly support obligation is identified. This base monthly support obligation is then allocated to each parent in proportion to that parent’s respective percentage of the combined monthly parental gross income. The amount owing by the non-custodial parent is the proper monthly child support obligation.
The use of the Guidelines is not mandatory, but they set a presumptive amount of support. There are important exceptions to the use of the formula. There are threemost common exceptions: high income cases, shared or equal parenting schedules, and hybrid support cases. In these cases, the Courts often deviate from the Guidelines.
Increasingly, parents do not have a traditional custodial/noncustodial schedule. In fact, the Guidelines are built on a “barebones” visitation schedule for the noncustodial parents. Some sources indicate that the Guidelines assume a mere 74 days of visitation per year in parenting time. In instances where there is equal or near equal timesharing, some modification must be considered. The precise deviation can be complicated. Goldberg Simpson lawyers use experience as well as specialized software to determine whether an agreement can be reached. If not, it is essential to be prepared to put the best case forward for the family court judge’s decision.
High income cases also present unique challenges. The Guidelines have an uppermost limit of $180,000 of combined parental income. In cases that exceed this ceiling, the judge must use his or her wisdom to determine a fair level of child support. Goldberg Simpson lawyers have litigated this issue before trial court as well as in the landmark case of Downing v. Downing which has been cited in more than 100 subsequent cases on this topic. In such cases, there is a need to be creative. Goldberg Simpson has the expertise to craft appropriate remedies in these unique situations.
Finally, there are a wide variety of hybrid situations which may be considered in child support cases. These include instance where parents desire to pay for benefits which are not typically ordered by Family Courts. For example, some parents have the means and desire to pay for private school, summer camps, travel enrichment programs, and college tuition and costs. Generally speaking, courts lack the jurisdiction to order these as child support. However, when parents desire to do so, it may be wise to draft a document which clearly articulates the agreement as well as any preconditions to the benefit. For example, there might be grade and or behavior requirements for the child if he or she is to receive the benefit of private school. The agreement should also reflect the division of responsibility between the parents. Goldberg Simpson lawyers know how to protect these interests.
Additionally, parents should be aware child support is modifiable. It is important to consult with counsel if and when there is a change in circumstances. Handshake agreements are often a nightmare and may cost the unwary parent thousands of dollars. Even when a child turns 18, it is preferable to have a court order state that the obligation has ceased.
Having counsel with experience in the exceptions is essential. It is also important to have a lawyer who is familiar with the tendencies of the particular Family Court judge. Goldberg Simpson lawyers are seasoned litigators. We have tried family court cases. We have represented clients before the Kentucky Court of Appeals and the Supreme Court of Kentucky. An unparalleled level of experience makes selection of a domestic relations lawyer an easy choice during a difficult time.
Johns Helmers is a Family Law attorney with Goldberg Simpson, a Louisville-based law firm serving Kentucky and surrounding regions.
We help injured families in Louisville, Lexington, Bowling Green, Paducah, Ashland, Owensboro, Elizabethtown, Madisonville, and Pikeville, Kentucky. Call 502-589-4440 for a free confidential consultation.