Kentucky was one of just four states that received an A- or higher from the National Parents Organization. The grade was due to its new child support reform bill, which removed the 1.5 multiplier often referred to as the “Shared Parenting Penalty Multiplier.” The old formula multiplied the combined income by 1.5 before subtracting the less-earning parent’s earnings. Critics believed that the multiplier unfairly and randomly inflated shared parenting child support. Unanimously passed last year by the state House and Senate, the bill went into effect on March 1, 2022.
New self-support reserve
Another part of the bill included the addition of a self-support reserve, which ensures that low-income parents have enough money to pay their own living expenses. Calculated using the number of children involved, this is a new initiative designed to avoid putting lower-earning parents deeper into debt because they cannot pay basic child support.
If they end up in jail for not paying, parents behind in payments cannot work to pay their support or accrued debts. To address this, the federal government raised the non-support threshold from $1,000 to $5,000. While this may not seem like a lot of money, 70% of parents unable to pay support earn less than $10,000 per year.
Overnight stays are now an issue
One area of confusion is the recently passed House Bill 501, which could affect the new law. Rather than a set financial credit for child stays for both parents, the bill calls for a complicated formula for unfairly crediting the higher-earning parent for nights that the children spend in their home by imposing random thresholds with large gaps where the rates go down for increased numbers of stays. Rather than have parents fight to get or avoid the thresholds, a single rate per day makes more sense regardless of the number.
Those with questions or concerns on these and other support matters should consult an experienced family law attorney who understands the implications of these changes.