When Can Child Support Be Terminated in Kentucky?
By Jennifer Williams
In Kentucky, child support usually terminates when a child reaches the age of majority, which under Kentucky law, occurs when the child reaches age 18, unless he is still in high school or is handicapped. Usually, child support obligations ordered by a Kentucky court terminate automatically when the child reaches age 18 and graduates from high school. However, there are some exceptions to this general rule in which additional circumstances or court intervention must take place before a parent can legally stop paying child support.
Kentucky court-ordered child support usually terminates automatically if a child is both 18 and a high school graduate. But if an 18-year old is still in high school, as long as he is not married, he is entitled to parental support until age 19, and a disabled child is entitled to parental support until age 21.
Implied emancipation occurs when a child is allowed to move out of a parent's home and become self-supporting before the age of 18 or high school graduation. Child support can be terminated in the case of an implied emancipation, but the implied emancipation can be revoked by the parent. If the child returns to the custodial parent's care, the obligation to pay child support will resume. Emancipation also occurs if the minor child marries or obtains a court order declaring him emancipated. In these situations, the child is considered a legal adult and the child support obligation terminates.
Support of Multiple Children
Unless a child support order or marital settlement agreement specifically provides otherwise, when one child turns 18 and graduates from high school, the legal obligation to pay the entire monthly amount of child support to the custodial parent does not automatically terminate. Nor is the total amount automatically reduced by the amount allocated to that child. To reduce the monthly support payment, the paying parent must file a motion to modify child support in the court that issued the original support order. The motion must state what circumstance represents a material and on-going change, such as the child reaching the age of majority.
Parents can present an agreement to reduce the support amount to the court for judicial signature. Otherwise, the court must hold a hearing before it decides to modify support and by what amount. Any court order reducing the child support obligation cannot be applied retroactively, but applies only from the date of the order.
Marital Settlement Agreement
A marital settlement agreement provision that extends the child support obligation beyond what the law requires is binding on the parents. For example, where parents agree to extend the child support obligation beyond the age of 18, beyond high school graduation or both, this agreement takes precedence over the less strict requirements of Kentucky law. The statutory support requirements are only minimum requirements and parents may agree to more restrictive terms. Examples of agreements that go beyond what Kentucky law requires include agreeing to pay child support through college as long as the child goes to college or agreeing to pay child support through age 21 regardless of the child's educational situation.
An attorney for more than 18 years, Jennifer Williams has served the Florida Judiciary as supervising attorney for research and drafting, and as appointed special master. Williams has a Bachelor of Arts in communications from Jacksonville University, law degree from NSU's Shepard-Broad Law Center and certificates in environmental law and Native American rights from Tulsa University Law.