The first statute to consider is Kentucky Revised Statute (KRS) 405.020, which provides: "The father and mother shall have the joint custody, nurture and education of their children who are under the age of eighteen (18)." That statute has consistently been interpreted to authorize a court to require either the father and the mother, or both, to pay child support.
KRS 403.213(3) clarifies this obligation: "(P)rovisions for the support of a child shall be terminated by emancipation of the child unless the child is a high school student when he reaches the age of eighteen (18). In cases where the child becomes emancipated because of age, but not due to marriage, while still a high school student, the court-ordered support shall continue while the child is a high school student, but not beyond completion of the school year during which the child reaches the age of nineteen (19) years."
Kentucky law also provides for the parent to support his or her child who is wholly dependent because of a physical or mental disability.
Not to over-simplify, but anyone who is subject to a valid Kentucky Child Support Order is required to pay child support in Kentucky! Child support can be ordered regardless of whether the parent has physical or legal custody of the child. It can be ordered in a divorce case, a paternity case, a custody proceeding, a case involving the neglect or abuse of a child or a domestic violence case.
A child support obligation is terminated only when a court orders it to be terminated. It does not stop simply because the parent is in jail or prison, loses his or her job, ever visits with the child, or has lost the right to visit with the child. It does not necessarily even stop when the parent dies! Are you kidding me? No, see KRS 403.213(3)!
In the next 24 Lessons, we will examine some of the most common questions about the law that I ruled on as a judge in determining whether to issue a valid child support order, how much was to be paid, and how to modify and enforce those orders.
Now at least you know a little bit about who is required to pay child support in Kentucky, so have a great day!