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Navigating Kentucky’s New Child Support Guidelines: A Comprehensive Review

New Child Support Worksheet Review

In nearly every divorce and custody case, child support is a contributor of stressor for both parties involved:  the non-custodial parent and the custodial parent. The non-custodial parent, or the payor, worries about staying financially grounded, while upholding their child support obligation and providing for their child.[1] The custodial parent, or the payee, worries about collecting the support on time, collecting the full obligated amount, or in some cases even collecting payment at all.[2] As if all of this weren’t enough, the newest version of the Kentucky Child Support guidelines drastically changed how child support is calculated in the Commonwealth.

On April 8, 2022, Governor Andy Beshear signed House Bill 501 into law, amending the Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) section 403.212. The amendment became effective on March 31, 2023 and immediately changed the child support landscape. Under the revised statute, KRS 403.2121, child support obligations are now adjusted based on each parent’s parenting time. The statute calculates parenting time based on each parent’s number of days they have care, custody, and control of the child, or children, in a calendar year.[3]  

The statute defines a “day” as, “ more than twelve (12) consecutive hours in a twenty-four (24) hour period under the care, control, or direct supervision of one (1) parent or caretaker, or as the court determines based on findings of substantially equivalent care or expense.”[4] KRS 403.2121(2)(a) states that in order to receive the newly created shared parenting time credit, a parent must maintain case, custody and control of the child for a minimum of seventy-three days per year in. If not, then the parent is not entitled to the shared parenting time credit and may be obligated to pay the full child support obligation.”[5]

Prior to this revision, the previous Kentucky Child Support Guidelines and Worksheet did not provide for a parenting time calculation and support was based on each parent’s proportion to their combined monthly parental gross income.[6] However, the newly established shared parenting time credit reduces a parent’s child support obligation by a certain percentage based on the number of days of parenting time they have in a single year. The shared parenting time credit chart can be found in KRS 403.2121(4) and is also included below:

Parenting Time Days

Adjustment Percentages



















Impact of the New Guidelines

To see the impact the new guidelines and worksheet have on a parent’s child support obligation, we will look at an example using the old Child Support Guidelines and Worksheet.

Parent A, custodial parent (CP), has a monthly gross income of $2,500 and Parent B, noncustodial parent (NCP), has a monthly gross income of $8,000. The Parties have two minor children, so based on the combined monthly adjusted parental gross income the base monthly support is $1,571. Parent A makes 24% of the combined monthly household income and Parent B makes 76%. Taking 24% of $1,571, Parent A’s obligation would be $377.04. Taking 76% of $1,571, Parent B’s obligation would be $1,193.96. Previously, some judges may have used their discretion to subtract Parent B’s $1,193.96 obligation from Parent A’s $377.04 to offset for shared parenting time for a total payable obligation of $816.92 by Parent B, but there was no statutory obligation to do so regardless of whether the parents had equally shared parenting time.

However, under the new guidelines, using the same monthly gross income and number of minor children as above, the change occurs when you multiply the Parties’ base support amount, here it is $1,571, by the corresponding Parenting Time Adjustment Percentage. Here, assuming the parents have equal parenting time, 182.5 days, the adjustment percentage is 50%. The worksheet then guides you to take 50% of the base monthly support amount, $1,571, which gives you a total of $785.50 that acts as the shared parenting time credit. This credit is then subtracted from Parent B’s base monthly support of $1,193.96. resulting in Parent B’s total child support obligation being $408.46. In essence, Parent A receives 50% less each month and Parent B pays 50% less than they would have under the previous child support guidelines..

The “Cliff Effect”

As illustrated in the above table, the new Child Support Worksheet and Guidelines create a “cliff effect” where the parenting time days are clustered into 9 “cliffs”, each with a different adjustment percentage. The corresponding adjustment percentage applies until a different cliff is reached. For example, if Parent B has between 153-162 days of parenting time, the adjustment percentage is 36%. If Parent B has just one more day of parenting time, making it 163 days of parenting time, the adjustment percentage increases to 42%. To see how this works in reality, we will use another example using the same facts as above.

Parent A has a monthly gross income of $2,500 and Parent B has a monthly gross income of $8,000. Base monthly support is still $1,571. Shared parenting time for Parent B is 153 days with a 36% adjustment percentage credit. The equation gives you $565.56 which is subtracted from Parent B’s monthly child support obligation. Parent B’s total payable obligation is then $628.40. If Parent B has 10 more days of parenting time, making it 163 days of parenting time, a new cliff is reached, and the adjustment percentage increases to 42%. Parent B’s monthly child support obligation then decreases to $534.14.

These examples demonstrate how the new Child Support Worksheet and Guidelines can produce arbitrary results. If in the previous example Parent B had just 1, 2, or even 7 additional days of parenting time, still falling in the 153-162 range, the payable obligation stays the same, but by having one additional day of parenting time Parent B was entitled to a $31.42 decrease in their monthly child support.

Finally, like most new pieces of legislation the new Child Support Worksheet and Guidelines invite the potential for unintended consequences and of course litigation. Parents with an established child support obligation under the old Child Support Worksheet and Guidelines may seek to adjust their obligation under the new worksheet as the change in governing law likely satisfies the requirement that there be a material change in circumstances. Moreover, the introduction of the shared parenting time credit encourages parents to fight for more days and parenting time to receive a higher credit. Parents may be fighting over a single night, merely 12 hours, to reach the next cliff and in turn get a bigger adjustment percentage. Parents are therefore incentivized to count each and every day they have with their children to ensure that they are receiving the appropriate adjustment percentage, or in some cases, refuse to forfeit any parenting with the kids even if they are, say, sick or have to work.

With parents now knowing that every day matters for child support calculation purposes, family law attorneys have seen, and can continue to expect, an increase in child support modification cases. From ordinary, annual pay raises to a parent who doesn’t exercise parenting time but a few times per year, these cases will run the gamut and will continue to cause headaches for parents and their attorneys throughout the state.

[1] Office of Child Support Enforcement, How it Works, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, (Last visited May 22, 2023).

[2] Id.

[3] KRS 403.2121

[4] KRS 403.2121(1)(a)

[5] KRS 403.2121(2)(a)

[6] KRS 402.212(5)(a)

Kentucky Divorce Law Attorneys Who Truly Care

Serving the residents of Kenton County, Campbell County and Boone County, the law office of Dietz Family Law is ready to help you with your divorce or family law issues.  At Dietz Family Law we take the time to understand your unique issues and will craft the strategy that is right for you.  Whether you live in Covington, Florence, Independence, or Alexandria, our Edgewood Law Office is conveniently located and ready to serve.