According to Kentucky Law, What Happens if a Man Isn't Able to Pay Child Support?

by Bernadette A. Safrath

A noncustodial parent in Kentucky is responsible for paying child support until his child graduates from high school and turns 18. If he is unable to pay, the court may temporarily modify the support order, but that does not end his child support obligation. The state has a variety of methods to collect support from monetary sources other than the nonpaying parent's income.

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Support Orders and Modification

A Kentucky court will issue a child support order after considering each parent's financial situation, as well as the child's needs. The child support amount is based on the number of children who need support and the parents' total income. The amount is then proportioned based on the owing parent's percentage of the total income. If a parent has problems making payments, she can request that the court modify the order. In Kentucky, child support can be modified if the owing parent has experienced a "material change in circumstances," such as a decrease in income of at least 15 percent.

Statute of Limitations

When a parent cannot pay child support, past due payments continue to accrue. A parent who is owed support can seek enforcement on a child support order for up to 15 years after the child reaches age 18.


Federal and state law allows the Kentucky Division of Child Support to use several enforcement methods in order to collect past due child support when a parent is unable or refuses to pay as ordered. DCS will obtain a wage garnishment order allowing a percentage of the owing parent's income, unemployment or worker's compensation benefits to be withheld and transferred to the custodial parent. Additionally, if the owing parent wins the lottery or is expecting state and federal tax refunds, DCS can seize those funds and apply them to the past due child support amount.

Liens on Property

When a parent owing support does not have money available for DCS to collect to pay support, there are still other penalties in place to punish a parent for failing to pay and to deter other parents from attempting to avoid their support obligation. DCS will place a lien on any property, including real estate, bank accounts and automobiles. This means that when the parent attempts to sell the property, DCS will collect past due child support from the proceeds of the sale before the parent is permitted to profit.

License Suspension

If the parent has any licenses issued in the state, including a driver's license, any professional licenses -- such as medical, law or business -- or any recreational licenses -- like boating, fishing or hunting -- DCS can request that the issuing bureau suspend or revoke those licenses until child support is paid. If the avoidance of paying child support is willful and continuous, the parent may face time in jail.