Indiana has clear guidelines about how much parents should pay, but many factors can influence the court’s final say in establishing child support.
When determining child support, it’s best to hire a skilled Indianapolis child support lawyer as soon as possible. The family law team at Hessler Law understands how important this issue is for you and your family, and we can advocate for the right outcome for you.
Understanding Child Support in Indiana
Child support is distinct from custody and spousal maintenance in a divorce. Child support is court-ordered financial support for a child which can be used for the child’s basic needs. In Indiana, child support is governed by the state’s Child Support Rules and Guidelines.
When Is Child Support Ordered?
When a child’s parents decide to end their marriage, the court will issue a child support order while the divorce is pending. When the divorce is finalized, the judgment will include a child support order, which may differ from the temporary one in place during proceedings.
If the child’s paternity is in question, Marion County’s Child Support program office can order genetic testing and other measures to establish it so child support can be obtained.
What Can Child Support Be Used for?
Child support is intended to cover the child’s basic living expenses, such as:
- Clothing and school supplies
- Health insurance
In some cases, child support can also be ordered to cover expenses for extracurricular activities such as sports, summer camps, and additional education.
When Does Child Support Stop?
In most cases, child support stops when the child turns 19 or graduates high school, whichever is later. However, exceptions exist, such as if the child is emancipated. Emancipation can occur if the child is:
- On active duty in the armed forces
- Not under the care or control of either parent or a court-approved agency
Emancipation and other reasons for ending child support can be complicated. Your Indianapolis child support lawyer will answer your questions and navigate the intricacies in this area so you don’t make more payments than necessary.
How Is Child Support Calculated?
Both parents are required to support their children financially. Indiana Child Support Guidelines establish a formula for calculating child support, which takes into account factors such as:
- The number of children
- Each parent’s gross income
- The child’s medical and educational needs
- Existing alimony obligations
- Time and overnights the child spends with each parent
- The standard of living the child would have enjoyed if the marriage had not ended
The state offers an online child support calculator which can estimate weekly child support payments, provide necessary forms, and give you and your attorney a better idea of what to expect regarding child support.
Disputing Child Support Orders
Like dividing assets and deciding child custody, child support can be a point of contention between parties in a divorce. Indiana tries to standardize the calculation of child support payments with the use of a formula, but unfair outcomes can happen.
Your Indianapolis child support lawyer can use their knowledge and experience of the child support process to ensure an equitable decision is reached. Your attorney will help you accurately identify your income, protect yourself by documenting each payment, and explain your options for modifying the support order if needed.
Modifying a Child Support Order
The state recognizes that changing child support orders may be necessary as children age or parents experience changes in their income or expenses. However, parents can’t petition to modify child support without good reason. To alter a child support order, a parent must show evidence of a significant life change preventing them from making payments at the same level, such as:
- Loss of employment
- Change in health or medical needs
- Change in the child’s health or living needs
- Drastically changed cost of living
An Indianapolis child support attorney can guide you through the steps to modify a child support order, should it become necessary.
How Are Child Support Obligations Enforced?
Parents ordered to pay child support must meet their obligations or face consequences for being delinquent. Indiana’s child support enforcement measures can include:
- Intercepting federal and state income tax refunds, employer bonuses, insurance settlements, and lottery winnings
- Denying or revoking passports
- Applying a lien on the debtor’s vehicle
- Reporting the debt to creditors
- Suspending driver’s and professional licenses, including hunting and fishing licenses
If a parent intentionally violates a child support order, they can also be held in contempt of court. Delinquent child support payments can also gain interest.
Not only does not paying child support hurt the child, but it can also create preventable problems for the delinquent parent. Your Indianapolis child support lawyer can help you keep payments manageable and reach the best solution for your situation.