Often times when our clients first come to our office seeking a divorce, they are armed with loads of questions surrounding the divorce process. Child support seems to be a topic in which there is a lot of misinformation out there and even more questions. Since 1989 Indiana courts have followed the Indiana Child Support Guidelines. The court uses a Child Support Worksheet to decide how much child support to order. The purpose of the Worksheet and Guidelines is to establish an appropriate child support amount based on the parent’s ability to pay and allow more efficiency in our courts. Typically, each parent completes a worksheet listing their income and other required information. Each worksheet must be signed by the parent. Income must be verified with documentation of past and current earning.
What factors go in to determining child support?
1. The weekly gross-income of both parents 2. Costs of childcare 3. Costs of healthcare 4. Number of nights the non-custodial parent spends with the child(ren)
There are also a few exceptions in which the child support amount can differ from the worksheet, such as extraordinary health or education expenses.
Once Child Support has been established, there are situations in which it can be modified. However, there are certain minimum requirements for making such changes. There are two requirements that must be met in Indiana to petition for a modification: 1) At least 12 months have passed since the date of the last modification and 2) The reduced or increased child support obligation must reflect at least a 20% change (plus or minus). In order to be modified, the changes in circumstances must be “substantial and continuing”. A job lay-off or job loss, for instance, is not considered “continuing” as the parent is expected to seek and obtain other employment or to return from lay-off.
Child support can be a complicated computation. Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.