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Navigating Child Support Termination in Kentucky: What You Need to Know

Child support is a legal obligation that one parent owes to the other parent or legal guardian of their child. This money is intended to help with the expenses of raising a child, such as food, clothing, education, and healthcare.

In Kentucky, child support laws are governed by the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) and enforced by the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program.

Calculation of Child Support

When calculating child support, two main factors are taken into consideration: the gross income of the parents and the number of children involved. Gross income includes wages, salaries, commissions, bonuses, and other forms of income.

In cases where one parent is self-employed, their income is calculated differently. The court will look at their gross receipts and subtract their business expenses to determine their net income.

Kentucky provides a child support calculator that can be used to estimate child support payments. This calculator considers various factors, such as the number of children, work-related child-care costs, and alimony payments.

It provides a fair and consistent way of calculating child support obligations that both parents can use as a reference.

Factors Influencing Child Support

In Kentucky, the number of children involved is the primary factor in determining the amount of child support to be paid. However, the court also considers other factors such as work-related child-care costs and alimony payments.

Child-care costs can include daycare, after-school programs, and summer camps. Moreover, alimony payments are factored in the child support calculation depending on whether or not they are court-ordered.

Modification of Child Support

Child support payments can be modified if there is a material change of circumstances, such as a significant increase or decrease in income, changes in child-related expenses, or changes in child custody or visitation schedule. The party requesting the modification must make a written request to the court and provide relevant documentation to support their claim.

The court will then consider the request, and if approved, modifies the child support order.

Enforcement of Child Support in Kentucky

Unfortunately, non-payment of child support is a common occurrence in Kentucky. The state has various legal mechanisms to enforce child support orders and ensure the financial stability of children.

Legal Actions for Non-Payment

One of the most common ways to enforce child support is through income withholding orders. The employer of the non-custodial parent is required to withhold the appropriate amount of child support from their paycheck and send it to the Child Support Enforcement program.

This is also known as wage garnishment. In cases where the parent owing child support is receiving unemployment or other benefits, the CSE can seek to withhold these benefits to pay for child support arrears.

Additionally, back child support can be deducted from state and federal tax refunds, lottery winnings, and other types of financial benefits.

Felony Non-Support in Kentucky

If the parent owing child support fails to comply with the court-ordered child support payments, they can be held in contempt of court, which can result in a fine, jail time or both. In Kentucky, if a parent owes more than $10,000 or has not provided support for more than one year, they can be charged with felony non-support, which is punishable by up to five years in prison.

Statute of Limitations for Child Support

In Kentucky, there is a 15-year statute of limitations for child support orders, which means that the CSE cannot collect child support payments that are more than 15 years old. However, the 15-year limit does not apply to child support arrears, and interest on arrears may continue to accrue until the entire balance is paid.

Additionally, there is no statute of limitations for paternity lawsuits, which means that a child can establish paternity and seek child support at any time.


Child support is a critical component of ensuring the financial stability of children whose parents are separated. Knowing the laws in Kentucky and understanding how child support is calculated and enforced can help parents navigate this process with clarity and confidence.

Whether you are seeking to establish a child support order, modify an existing order, or enforce a child support order, understanding your rights and responsibilities is essential to achieving your goals. When a child support order is issued in Kentucky, it remains in effect until it is terminated.

However, there are circumstances under which child support may automatically terminate or become voluntary. It is important to understand these circumstances to avoid continuing to pay child support when it is no longer required.

Automatic Termination of Child Support

In Kentucky, child support automatically terminates when the child reaches the age of 18. The only exception to this rule is when the child is still in high school and has not yet graduated.

In this case, support can continue until the child graduates from high school or reaches the age of 19, whichever comes first. It is important to note that child support payments must continue to be made until the child support order is modified, even if the child has reached the age of 18 or graduated from high school.

The parent receiving child support payments can file a petition in court to request a modification of the child support order if they believe the order is no longer appropriate.

Emancipation in Kentucky

In Kentucky, a child can become legally emancipated before the age of 18, which means they are no longer under the financial support of their parents. To be eligible for emancipation, the child must meet specific criteria outlined by Kentucky law.

Some of these criteria include:

– The child is at least 16 years old

– The child has obtained a high school diploma, GED, or equivalent

– The child is self-supporting and not relying on their parents for financial assistance

– The child is married or has been legally declared an adult by a court

Emancipation can also be granted by a court if it is in the best interest of the child. For example, if the parent is abusive or neglectful and the child would be better off living independently, the court may grant emancipation.

Once a child is emancipated, the parent is no longer legally obligated to pay child support. However, if there are unpaid child support arrears, the parent must still pay those arrears.

Voluntary Termination of Parental Obligation and Arrears

In some situations, a parent may voluntarily terminate their parental obligation to a child. This can occur in circumstances where the child is being adopted or the other parent has remarried, and the new spouse wishes to adopt the child.

In these situations, the court may terminate the parental obligation of the non-custodial parent, and any child support arrears may be forgiven. It is important to understand that merely wanting to terminate parental obligation because the parent is absent from the child’s life is not grounds for termination.

Courts are reluctant to terminate parental obligation and will only do so if it is deemed to be in the best interest of the child. If a parent is behind on child support payments or has accrued child support arrears, they must still pay those arrears even if their parental obligation is terminated.

Moreover, unpaid child support arrears cannot be forgiven even if the parent’s parental obligation is terminated.


Termination of child support in Kentucky can occur automatically when a child turns 18 or graduates from high school. Emancipation is another way in which child support can be terminated if the child meets certain eligibility criteria or if it is in their best interest.

Voluntary termination of parental obligation and arrears may occur in certain circumstances, such as adoption. Understanding these termination rules is essential to avoiding overpayment of child support and preventing undue financial hardship.

Parents should consult an experienced family law attorney if they have questions or concerns about child support termination. Child support is a legal obligation that a parent owes to the other parent or legal guardian of their child to help cover the expenses of raising a child.

In Kentucky, child support laws are governed by the Kentucky Revised Statutes (KRS) and enforced by the Child Support Enforcement (CSE) program. This article discussed various topics related to termination of child support and parental obligation in Kentucky, such as automatic termination of child support, emancipation, and voluntary termination of parental obligation and arrears.

Understanding these rules is critical to preventing undue financial hardship and ensuring that the best interests of the child are met. Anyone with questions or concerns regarding child support termination should seek counsel from an experienced family law attorney.

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