How Child Support is Calculated in Indiana

How is Child Support Calculated in Indiana? 

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Have you ever wondered how child support is calculated?  The Indiana Supreme Court has adopted the Indiana Child Support Guidelines which lays out the standards for calculating child support and coincides with the Indiana Code.
Under I.C. 31-16-6-1, a court can order either parent, or both parents, to pay any amount reasonable for support of a child.  Here’s a look at the factors a court may consider under the code:

  1. The financial resources of the custodial parent;
  2. The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if:
    1. The marriage had not been dissolved;
    2. The separation had not been ordered; or
    3. In the case of a paternity action, the parents had been married and remained married to each other;
  3. The physical or mental condition of the child and the child’s educational needs; and
  4. The financial resources and needs of the noncustodial parent.

Basically, the courts are going to want the child to be able to maintain the same lifestyle that he or she would have maintained if both parents were together as a single family unit (assuming that’s financially possible).  Below is an overview of the overall factors that affect the actual calculation under the guidelines.  Keep in mind that these are all based on weekly amounts.
INCOME: The weekly gross income of each parent is used in the calculation.  Under the guidelines, “weekly gross income” is defined as actual weekly gross income of the parent if employed to full capacity, potential income if unemployed or underemployed, and imputed income based upon “in-kind” benefits.  Gross income is income from any source–just like when you are doing your taxes!  This includes, but is not limited to, salaries, wages, bonuses, overtime, dividends, prizes, alimony or maintenance received from previous marriages, social security benefits, workmen’s compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, gifts, and inheritances.  Imputed income could include free housing you are receiving, a company car used for personal travel, or other items that could reduce living expenses.
DEDUCTIONS: After weekly gross income is determined, deductions can be taken from that total weekly amount.  The guidelines allow for four types of deductions:

    • Adjustment for Subsequent-born or Adopted Children.  This deduction can be taken if you have a legal duty or court order to support a child who was born or adopted after the existing support order and that parent is actually meeting or paying that obligation.
    • Court Orders for Prior-born Children.  If the parent is paying court ordered support on prior-born children, this amount can be deducted from your weekly gross income.  It is important to note that this can include any post-secondary education expenses.
    • Legal Duty of Support for Prior-born Children.  This deduction is the same as above, except that it includes support being paid that is not court ordered, but you have a legal duty to support.  A parent can then deduct an amount that is reasonably necessary.  This deduction does not include step-children.
    • Alimony or Maintenance from Prior Marriage.  If you’ve been married before and were ordered to pay spousal maintenance, this can be included as a deduction.

Once any deductions are taken out, offsetting expenses can be added to either parent’s obligation amount.
CHILD CARE EXPENSES.  The calculation accounts for work-related child care expenses that a parent incurs due to employment or a job search.  Each parent shall receive a credit equal to the amount of child care expenses they are incurring.
COST OF HEALTH INSURANCE FOR CHILDREN.  The parent incurring the expense of insurance premiums for the children shall receive a credit for such expense.  It is important to separate any amount a parent is paying for their own health insurance premiums from the children’s portion that is included within the calculation.
EXTRAORDINARY HEALTH CARE EXPENSES.  The guidelines use what is called the “6% rule” when determining uninsured health care expenses.  The 6% rule requires the parent with the controlling expenses to pay up to 6% of the basic uninsured health insurance obligation and extraordinary expenses would be anything in excess of that.   Usually the custodial parent maintains the controlling expenses, but it doesn’t necessarily have to be that way if parenting time between both parents is relatively equal.
EXTRAORDINARY EDUCATIONAL EXPENSES.  This can include elementary, secondary or post-secondary education expenses and should be limited to reasonable and necessary expenses to meet the particular educational needs of the child.
PARENTING TIME/OVERNIGHT CREDITS.  Anytime a non-custodial parent exercises overnight parenting time, the number of overnights can be used to offset the amount of the child support obligation.
All of the above factors affect the final calculation.  A court is going to presume the amount calculated is the correct amount, however, that presumption is rebuttable.  This means there is room for flexibility and deviation from that amount and since there is no statutory minimum amount that must be paid, each family is based on a case-by-case basis.  Any deviation from the guideline amount should be outlined so a Judge can see there is a reasonable explanation for such a deviation.
So, what happens after the calculation is done and an amount has been ordered?  Any child support payments should be paid directly through the clerk in the county maintaining jurisdiction, through the Indiana State Central Collection Unit, or through an Income Withholding Order.

If you would like a quick look at what child support numbers might be in your personal situation, click here, to use Indiana’s free child support calculation tool. 

 
Should you or a loved one find themselves in a situation where child support may be an issue, give the experienced Indianapolis Family Law Attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC, a call today. The attorneys at Banks & Brower, LLC are experienced in the area of all areas in family law and can help guide you through the ins-and-outs of all your family law matters.  Give us a call 24/7/365 at (317)870-0019 and/or email us at info@banksbrower.com.