How has child support changed in Kansas for 2016? Let us take you through some of the most important changes. Changes became effective on January 1, 2016. The child support guidelines advisory committee has released their report to the Supreme Court advising of the changes and the reasons for the changes. You can read the full report on the Supreme Court Website.
Below, we will highlight some of the more impacting changes made to the child support guidelines for 2016.
Arguably the most impacting change to the guidelines is the increases made to the child support tables. Similar to the 2012 guidelines review, the child support tables have increased between 1% and 5% depending on income, with the largest increase occurring in the lower income groups. The economic study conducted by the contracted economist concluded that parents now spend a higher portion of their paycheck on their children.
Direct expenses have been somewhat defined. Section X now provides a basic definition of what direct expenses include. For families practicing a shared residency parenting plan, this section may be most helpful in determining the type of expenses that should be considered.
Petitioner/Respondent labels on the child support worksheet have been replaced with the parties' respective name. According to the meeting minutes, there was considerable discussion and desire to avoid the confusion the use of Petitioner/Respondent apparently brings. Whether this change makes the worksheet more user-friendly remains to be seen.
For shared residential parents, a number of changes have been made.
- possibly the most welcome change to shared residential parents is the inclusion of a basic definition of direct expenses. In order to appease those parents conflicted about what constitutes a direct expense, a basic definition of a direct expense and a few brief examples of typical direct expenses have been provided. Typically, a direct expense is an expense paid directly to a third-party for the direct benefit of the child.
- in the case of the EPT formula, the court now has a number of factors to consider when deciding which parent will be put in charge of direct expenses. When the EPT formula was introduced in 2012, practitioners were conflicted in deciding which parent should provide all the direct expenses. Hopefully this change proves helpful.
- parents utilizing the Equal Parenting Time formula, the allowance for clothing has been increased from 2% to 3%. This allowance is used when parents each provide clothing for the child(ren) in their own home as opposed to one parent purchasing all clothing.
- parents wishing to share direct expenses may still do so, but the 2016 guidelines eliminate the need for parents to have a signed agreement. A court is now able to decide if sharing direct expenses is in the child's best interest. The advisory committee considered that sometimes a parent may disagree to share direct expenses for their own personal reasons rather than the child's best interest.
The section including extracurricular activities and premier sports as special needs has been eliminated. This section was introduced in 2012 in effort to capture the exorbitant expenses of extracurricular activities. The committee concluded that parents spending large amounts of money on extracurricular activities are likely spending less on other items. Further, the cost of such activities is already included in the basic child support amounts from the tables.
Some guidance has been provided for parents affcted by the Affordable Care Act (e.g. ACA or Obamacare). Parents are encouraged to determine the most cost efficient solution to provide health insurance. Since a penalty is enforced on parents for failure to provide health insurance for their children, this penalty must be considered.
- The Kansas portion of the child tax credit has been eliminated in the Kansas tax code. The 2016 child support guidelines have removed this additional tax adjustment.