Can a grandparent be required to pay child support?

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Kentucky statute provides for grandparent visitation on quite limited grounds. In 2020, KRS 405.021(1)(b) and (c) were found to be unconstitutional, thus leaving intact only KRS 405.021(1)(a) and KRS 405.021(3) as the only potential avenues for a grandparent to obtain visitation. Pinto v. Robison, 607 S.W.3d 669, 671 (Ky. 2020).

KRS 405.021(3) allows a grandparent to seek visitation under only very narrow circumstances. 1) the parent of the child who is the son or daughter of the grandparent must be deceased, and 2) the grandparent must have assumed the financial obligation of child support owed by the deceased parent. If these two factors are met and the Court makes a Walker analysis properly awarding grandparents visitation, grandparents would have an ongoing obligation for support. On the other hand, KRS 405.021(1)(a) allows a grandparent to seek visitation regardless of if their child, the parent, is living or dead, and there is no obligation for support. A note of caution, it can be difficult to establish grandparent visitation under KRS 405.021(1)(a) given the presumption that a a fit parent acts in his or her child’s best interest when denying a grandparent visitation.

A grandparent acting as a grandparent can only be required to pay child support if they themselves take on the obligation and pursue visitation under KRS 405.021(3). Otherwise, grandparents cannot be required to pay child support. Or course, if a grandparent’s status changes, such as obtaining standing as a de facto custodian or becoming an adoptive parent, their rights and obligations also change.

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