When parents in Kentucky first begin to deal with child support, they may feel confused and overwhelmed. Many parents first are in contact with the support system after a divorce or other breakup, and they may feel emotionally vulnerable and uneasy. While most people know that non-custodial parents have an obligation to provide financially for their children, they may not understand how the determination is made or how a child support order is put into place.
First, parenthood must be officially established. Maternity can be shown by proving that the mother gave birth to the child, but there are several ways to determine paternity. If a mother gives birth while married to a man, the husband is presumed to be the putative father. An unmarried father can sign an acknowledgement of paternity at the child's birth or any time thereafter. In some cases, however, paternity is in dispute or doubt. Parents can seek a DNA test to prove whether a particular man is the father of the child. Once paternity is proven through a genetic test, a court order can be issued officially recognizing paternity.
Next, the non-custodial parent may be ordered to pay a specific amount of support. Child support orders are based on a formula contained in state guidelines that includes several objective factors; the most important of these is the non-custodial parent's income. Income here can include not only wages but also other forms of compensation like benefits, dividends, awards or judgments.
Sometimes, a child support order is established while a non-custodial parent is doing well financially, but he or she may later lose a job or become disabled and be unable to meet the obligation. In this case, the non-custodial parent might work with a family law attorney to seek a child support modification based on his or her current financial situation.