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Ky. House Approves Changes to State Child Support Laws

 A bipartisan effort to update child support laws cleared the Kentucky House of Representatives Monday.

Rep. C. Ed Massey (R-Hebron) and Rep. Angie Hatton (D-Whitesburg) said they worked with county attorneys and judges across the Commonwealth and the Child Support Commission to craft House Bill 404.

HB 404 would update Kentucky’s child support guidelines to be in line with federal guidelines.

“It has been over 15 years since we have updated these guidelines,” Massey said.

The bill covers updates to shared custody guidelines and seeks to ensure that child support monies are benefitting the child or children in question.

Another section of the bill would change how child support is charged for people who have less than 50/50 custody but more than the standard every other weekend custody agreement. Hatton said this section of the bill would not go into effect until March 1, 2022.

“We want to give judges time to adjust to it and figure it out,” Hatton said. “And we’ll have time to fix that next session if we need to.”

The House unanimously approved HB 404 by a 93-0 vote.

House Bill 402, an act relating to flagrant nonsupport, also came before the full House on Monday.

Currently if a parent is $1,000 behind on child support payments they could be charged with a felony. Under HB 402, that threshold would be increased to $5,000.

Massey, who is the primary sponsor of the bill, said the threshold of $1,000 is outdated and has been in place for as long as he can remember in his 30 years as an attorney.

This bill would help parents who may lose their job and fall a month or two behind on payments from receiving a felony charge, Massey said. There are some cases where the current law creates a domino effect where a parent cannot find a job due to the felony charge and therefore fall even further behind on payments.

“That does not mean, ladies and gentlemen, that somebody could not be held in contempt or prosecuted if you will, because they’re not living up to the obligation of caring for their minor children, but what it does do is prevent them from being put into a felony status for $1,000,” Massey said.

A House Committee Substitute to change the increase of the threshold to $2,500 instead of $5,000 failed on the House Floor after Rep. Jim DuPlessis (R-Elizabethtown) spoke against the motion.

“I can give you an example of a constituent who is having trouble making their payments. The payments assigned to them are at approximately $900 a month and they only make $2,000 a month after taxes,” DuPlessis said.

This constituent struggles to make their payments, DuPlessis added, but they’re doing what they can to support their children.

HB 402 cleared the House floor by a 71-22 vote.

Both HB 404 and HB 402 will now go before the Kentucky Senate for consideration. 

From the Legislative Research Committee

Photo: Rep. Ed Massey (via LRC)

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