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Kentucky child support, custody, visitation, and wage garnishment rules

Use this Kentucky child support law to learn about your child support rights and responsibilites.

How is Kentucky child support determined?

In Kentucky, either or both parents could receive a court order to provide a reasonable amount of child support. Marital misconduct will not be considered. The factors the courts consider are:

  • the financial resources of the child
  • the standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not ended
  • the health and educational needs of the child
  • the financial resources, needs and obligations of both parents

There are specific Kentucky Child Support Guidelines, designed to be in the best interests of the child, that the courts use to determine the correct amount of child support. These will be followed, unless the courts decide otherwise based on these factors:

  • the child’s extraordinary needs
  • either parent’s extraordinary needs
  • the independent financial resources of the child
  • the combined parental income is in excess of the Kentucky child support guideline amounts
  • an agreement between the parents for child support, that is if neither one is on public assistance
  • any other extraordinary expense

The following percentages of the net income of the paying parent are what the Kentucky child support guidelines are generally based on, if there is not an agreement between the parents:

  • 1 child 20%
  • 2 children 25%
  • 3 children 30%
  • 4 children 35%
  • 5 children 40%
  • 6 children 45%

At what age does child support payments end?

Generally, the obligation ends when the child reaches 18 years of age unless the child is still in high school - in which case the support ends upon the child's graduation from high school, or the child's 19th birthday, whichever occurs first.

Kentucky's custody guidelines:

Generally, the parents agree upon decisions about custody. If there is no agreement, then the courts will make these custody decisions. In Kentucky, joint or sole custody may be awarded based on the best interests of the child. The courts give equal consideration to both parents and consider the following factors:

  • the preference of the child
  • the wishes of the parents
  • the child’s adjustment to home, school and community settings
  • the physical and emotional health of all involved
  • the relationship the child has with each significant family member
  • any domestic abuse

Any conduct of the parents, which does not affect their relationship with the child, will not be considered in the custody decision. If a parent fled the family home due to physical harm or threats of physical harm, then this abandonment will not be considered.

Kentucky's medical insurance guidelines:

Generally, the decision as to which parent is going to provide medical insurance coverage for the child and how medical bills will be paid is set out in the marital settlement agreement. If not, the courts may order a parent to provide health care insurance coverage for the child.

How permanent are the provisions for Kentucky child support and custody ?

Court orders providing for support and custody of children are subject to change or modification to reflect significant changes in income, and/or living arrangements of the children.

While all orders concerning the children are modifiable in the future, we encourage you to not enter into an agreement based on the idea that it can always be changed or modified later.

Wage garnishment for child support payments:

Yes. Kentucky, like most states, has a provision for withholding child support directly from the earnings of the parent who has been ordered to provide support. It is withheld much like income tax is withheld from earnings payments.

This way of paying and receiving child support is generally easier for both parties and considered a very dependable solution. The way it typically works is, once the support is withheld, it is then sent to the state agency authorized to receive and disburse payments. Once it has been verified that the support was paid, it is then sent to the parent designated to receive the support.

If a non-custodial parent can show that they are providing more than 50 percent of the support for dependents not included in the court order from a second marriage, and is not in arrears, no more than 50% of their disposable income can be attached if they cannot pay the full court-ordered amount of both orders.

That number goes to 55% if the non-custodial parent is in arrears, 60 percent for a person only providing support to dependents under the current order, and 65% for a person who is in arrears and paying only on the current order.

How does joint custody work?

The current trend is to encourage parents to work together for the best interests of their children. Joint custody is now widely recognized by parents, courts and state legislatures as the preferred parenting plan for divorcing parents.

Specifically, joint custody is a form of custody of minor children that requires both parents to share the responsibilities of the children, and for both parents to approve all major decisions related to the children.

While joint custody is a 50-50 sharing of responsibilities and major decisions affecting the children, it rarely works out to be a 50-50 sharing of time with the children. Usually one parent is named as the primary joint custodian and the other parent is granted visitation. The primary joint custodian typically retains the decision making power to determine the child’s primary residence and school and to designate things such as the child’s primary physician.

How Kentucky determines child visitation:

Generally, the non-custodial parent is entitled to reasonable visitation pursuant to the Kentucky visitation guidelines.  The court will deny reasonable visitation if, after a hearing, it is determined that visitation would seriously endanger the child's physical, mental, moral or emotional health.

Reasonable visitation means that a non-custodial parent is free to visit with their children at any time that is mutually agreed on by both the non-custodial and custodial parents.  When parents are unable to agree, visitation is based on a standard visitation schedule that includes:

  • every other weekend
  • one to two weeks uninterrupted during the summer
  • alternating holidays
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