Child Support in Kansas

Learn how child support works in Kansas, including how to calculate support under the state's guidelines, how to get help collecting payments, and how to change the support amount.

By , Retired Judge
Considering Divorce? We've helped 85 clients find attorneys today.
First Name is required
First Name is required

Kansas, like every other state, has child support guidelines that give judges and parents a consistent way to calculate an amount of child support, based on the children's needs and the parents' ability to pay. Calculating child support can be a daunting task. It helps to understand how the guidelines work in Kansas, as well as how to collect or change child support.

Who Pays Child Support in Kansas?

Both parents are legally required to support their children financially. Typically, the parent with whom the kids live most of the time (often called the custodial parent or the parent with "primary residency") receives child support payments from the other parent.

But that doesn't mean custodial parents aren't paying their fair share of support. The Kansas guidelines calculate each parent's child support obligation—based largely on their proportionate share of their combined incomes—and then assume that the custodial parents are meeting that obligation by paying for the children's everyday needs, such as housing and food.

What Is "Child Support Income" Under the Kansas Guidelines?

For purposes of calculating child support, income doesn't necessarily mean the same as it does on income tax returns. To arrive at the amount of each parent's "child support income," the guidelines start with gross income and then make certain adjustments.

What's Counted in Gross Income

For parents who earn wages at a job, domestic gross income includes earnings from all sources, including:

  • bonuses and commissions
  • overtime and extra pay for some shifts
  • vacation pay
  • military or national guard pay (including housing and other allowances when a parent is called to active duty)
  • disability payments
  • workers' compensation benefits, and
  • distributions from a retirement plan.

Self-employed parents should include income from their business or other self-employment after deducting reasonable business expenses. Those expenses (which include self-employment taxes above the FICA rate) aren't necessarily the same as expenses that qualify for income tax purposes. Self-employed parents should also include any other income that they receive regularly and periodically from any source.

For both wage earners and self-employed parents, gross income does not include child support received for children from another relationship or public assistance based on financial need—such as Medicaid, Supplemental Security Income (SSI), or Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF). Also, gifts and inheritances are generally not considered income for the purpose of calculating child support.

(Kan. Child Support Guidelines §§ II.C, II.D (2024).)

When Kansas Judges May Impute Income to Parents

When it's appropriate—such as when a parent appears to be deliberately unemployed or underemployed—Kansas judges may attribute (impute) income to that parent for the purpose of calculating child support. When making that decision, judges must consider both parents' relevant circumstances, including their assets, history of earnings and work search, job skills, education, age, health, and barriers to employment. (Kan. Child Support Guidelines § II.B (2024).)

Adjustments to Gross Income

To arrive at the amount of child support income, the Kansas guidelines require the following adjustments to domestic gross income:

  • Parents who are actually paying court-ordered child support for children from other relationships will deduct the regular payments from their gross income.
  • Spousal maintenance (alimony) payments—whether to ex-spouses from previous marriages or to the other parent in the current case—will be deducted from the paying parent's gross income and added to the recipient's income. Because of changes in the federal tax rules on the deductibility of alimony, the amount of the maintenance award will be increased by the paying spouse's marginal tax rate (as long as the maintenance was originally awarded after 2018).

When both parents don't live in Kansas or the same metropolitan area, the guidelines also allow an adjustment to income for differences in the cost of living. But it's up to the judge to decide whether to apply this cost-of-living differential.

(Kan. Child Support Guidelines §§ III, IV.E, (2024).)

Calculating the Basic Child Support Obligation

Unlike many states, Kansas doesn't provide an official court-approved child support calculator. (You might find websites that offer online calculators for Kansas, but there's no guarantee that they're up to date with the latest Kansas guidelines, or that they account for all of the allowed adjustments.)

However, once you've added up both parents' child support income, you can easily find the total basic child support obligation in the Child Support Schedules in Appendix II of the guidelines. (The most recent version of the guidelines, along with fillable versions of the child support worksheet and other forms, are available on the Kansas Courts' Child Support Guidelines page.)

There are different schedules depending on the number of children being supported (from one to six). For very large families, the basic support obligation will be based on the kids' demonstrated needs but must be more than the schedule shows for six children.

Each schedule provides an increasing support amount for children within different age groups (0-5, 6-11, and 12-18), based on the parents' combined monthly income. When the parents' combined child support income is higher than the top level in the tables, the schedules include a mathematical formula for coming up with a basic child support obligation. However, it's up to the judge to decide whether to use that formula or set a different amount.

Adjustments to Child Support in Kansas

The basic child support obligation is just the starting point for calculating the amount of support that parents will actually pay (or receive) in any particular case. The Kansas guidelines provide for a number of adjustments to child support—and this is where the calculations get complicated.

Parenting Time Adjustments

The guidelines recognize that a noncustodial parent who has the child for a significant amount of time will be paying some child-related expenses that would normally be covered by the custodial parent. So in this situation, a judge may allow reduction in the noncustodial parent's share of child support based on one of the following adjustments:

  • Parenting time formula. If the child spends more than 35% of the time with the noncustodial parent, the judge may adjust the support amount based on that parenting time (not including time in school or day care). The guidelines offer a formula that judges may use: 10% reduction in support when the noncustodial parent has 35%-39% of parenting time, 20% reduction for 40%-44% of parenting time, and 30% reduction for 45%-49% of parenting time.
  • Actual cost adjustment. This adjustment would be based on the noncustodial parent's increased costs for the additional parenting time and the custodial parent's actual savings.

When a child will spend more than 14 consecutive days with the noncustodial parent (such as during school vacations), that parent's monthly support may be proportionately reduced by up to 50% under the extended parenting time adjustment.

The guidelines allow another adjustment or deviation when parents have equal parenting time (also known as "shared residency" in Kansas). In this situation, parents may use one of two formulas:

  • Under the equal parenting time formula, one parent pays all of the child's direct expenses (including clothing, school-related expenses, and extracurricular activities), while the other parent's support obligation is adjusted to balance the scales.
  • With the shared expense formula, the parents will need to keep records and cooperate to share the children's direct expenses.

(Kan. Child Support Guidelines §§ IV.H, VI.B, VI.C (2024).)

Adjustments for Health Insurance and Child Care

Under the Kansas guidelines, the following actual costs are added to the total child support obligation, as long as they're reasonable:

  • premiums for the child's health insurance (including mental health coverage), dental insurance (including orthodontics), and vision insurance, and
  • child care that's necessary to allow a parent to work or look for a job, reduced by any available tax credit for child care.

The parent who actually pays for these expenses will receive a credit on their child support obligation.

In addition, both parents are responsible for paying their proportional share of a child's necessary unreimbursed medical expenses.

(Kan. Child Support Guidelines §§ I.H, IV.I and IV.J (2024).)

Social Security Dependent Benefits

Parents who are paying child support will get a credit against their support obligation for any Social Security dependent/auxiliary benefits that are paid on behalf of a child and are based on the paying parent's earnings or disability. (Kan. Child Support Guidelines § VI.E (2024).)

Deviation for Low-Income Parents

The Kansas guidelines include what's known as an "ability to pay calculation" to ensure that noncustodial parents will be able to meet their basic subsistence needs after paying child support. The amount shown in the federal poverty guideline for a one-person household will be subtracted from that parent's child support income. If the resulting figure is less than the amount calculated for that parent's child support obligation, the judge must decide on an amount of support based on the child's best interests.

This adjustment is mandatory for low-income noncustodial parents. But judges may also consider the subsistence needs of custodial parents and children. (Kan. Child Support Guidelines § VI.D (2024).)

Other Adjustments

Finally, the guidelines include adjustments for:

  • substantial and reasonable costs related to long-distance parenting time (such as the child's airfare when traveling between parents who live far apart)
  • the actual economic effect when parents haven't agreed to share the benefits of the dependency exemption on the federal income taxes (for instance, by having each parent claim the exemption in alternating years)
  • extra expenses for a child's special needs
  • the parents' agreement to continue supporting a child past age 18, and
  • the parents' overall financial circumstances (including extra income from multiple jobs or regular overtime), if a judge believes those circumstances justify a deviation from the guideline amount of support.

(Kan. Child Support Guidelines § V (2024).)

Can Parents Agree on a Child Support Amount?

Parents may always agree on a child support amount, but they must submit their agreement for the court's approval. Because Kansas judges are legally required to follow the guidelines, the parents' agreement should also be in line with the guidelines. (Kan. Stat. § 23-3002 (2024).)

When Does Child Support End in Kansas?

Ordinarily, child support in Kansas ends when the child turns 18. But the law allows exceptions to this rule when:

  • a judge has approved the parents' written agreement to provide support for a child beyond age 18, or
  • the child is still attending high school after turning 18 (in which case support will usually continue until the end of that school year, although it might continue another year in certain circumstances when high school completion was delayed).

(Kan. Stat. § 23-3001 (2004).)

How to Apply for Child Support in Kansas

When you file for divorce in Kansas, your paperwork will include a request for a child support order, as well as a completed child support worksheet.

If you aren't married to your child's other parent, you may apply for child support through Kansas Child Support Services (CSS).

Paying and Collecting Child Support in Kansas

As a general rule, all child support orders in Kansas must include an income withholding order. When the paying parent is employed, the employer will deduct the support amount from that parent's paycheck and forward the money to the Kansas Payment Center (KPC), which will then pay the recipient parent.

As long as the custodial parent isn't receiving public assistance, the parents may agree to another arrangement for paying child support. But if they've agreed that payments will go directly to the recipient parent (rather than through the KPC, which is the norm), a judge will need to find that their arrangement is in the child's best interests.Without an agreement, the paying parent may also request not to have an income withholding order. But here again, the judge will grant that request only if it would be in the child's best interests.

(Kan. Stat. § 23-3103; Kan. Child Support Guidelines § I.G (2024).)

If you're having trouble collecting child support payments that are supposed to go through the KPC, you may ask the CSS for help with enforcement. The agency can use a number of methods to collect overdue child support or pressure parents to pay, including:

  • intercepting tax refunds
  • trying to find the noncustodial parent's new employer, if that parent has changed jobs
  • placing a lien on the parent's property, which would prevent selling or borrowing against that property until the child support debt is paid
  • restrictions on the parent's driver's license
  • reporting the debt to credit agencies, and
  • starting a court proceeding to have the parent found in contempt of court for disobeying the child support order.

If you aren't eligible for assistance from the CSS (such as when you'd agreed to receive the child support directly), you may have to go back to court yourself to request enforcement of the order.

Be aware that you aren't allowed to withhold visitation because your co-parent isn't keeping up with child support payments. Similarly, when you're the one paying child support, you aren't allowed to stop paying because the other parent is keeping you from your child. Instead, you must ask the court to enforce your custody and parenting time orders.

How to Change the Amount of Child Support

You may file a modification request with the court if you want a change in the amount of child support you're paying or receiving. If it's been less than three years since the existing order was issued, you'll need to prove that there's been a "material" change of circumstances during that time. (Kan. Stat. § 23-3005 (2024).)

A material change of circumstances means a non-temporary change that would call for a different amount of child support under the guidelines. For example, a support modification might be warranted when:

  • the child's needs have significantly changed
  • a parent has become disabled or is otherwise permanently unable to earn the same amount as before
  • the child is in a higher age group (after turning 6 or 12), or
  • a change in a parent's financial circumstances (or the guidelines themselves) would result in a 10% difference (either an increase or decrease) in the existing basic child support obligation.

(Kan. Child Support Guidelines § I.E (2024).)

As a matter of course, the CSS may conduct a review every three years to see whether a modification of an existing child support order is warranted. But if you believe a material change in circumstances exists, you may contact the agency immediately to see if you qualify for assistance with a modification request.

Does Remarriage Affect Child Support in Kansas?

In and of itself, a parent's remarriage won't affect the amount of child support. But if the parent who's paying support has children with a new partner, the "multiple-family application" under the guidelines may come into play. This adjustment can affect child support when the noncustodial parent is legally responsible for supporting children who live with that parent. (Kan. Child Support Guidelines § IV.F (2024).)

It's worth pointing out that without a stepparent adoption, there's no legal obligation to support stepchildren.

Getting Help With Child Support in Kansas

You can find more information and answers to questions on the child support FAQ page from Kansas Legal Services, which includes links for free interactive interviews to complete the child support worksheet (if your combined income is less than $50,000) and a motion to modify child support. Also, as mentioned above, you may be able to get help from the CSS.

But if you don't qualify for free help, you may need to consult with a family lawyer for assistance with calculating, enforcing, or modifying child support.

Considering Divorce?
Talk to a Divorce attorney.
We've helped 85 clients find attorneys today.
There was a problem with the submission. Please refresh the page and try again
Full Name is required
Email is required
Please enter a valid Email
Phone Number is required
Please enter a valid Phone Number
Zip Code is required
Please add a valid Zip Code
Please enter a valid Case Description
Description is required

How It Works

  1. Briefly tell us about your case
  2. Provide your contact information
  3. Choose attorneys to contact you