Published in Family Law by Chris Eskew on November 1, 2021.
Co-parenting has many challenges, from navigating parenting exchanges and birthdays to making sure each parent financially supports their children.
While parents have a lot of leeway in deciding how to share custody, Indiana law dictates financial support. The Indiana child support guidelines determine how much each parent has to contribute and which parent owes the other support.
If you’re going through a child custody matter right now, talk with an attorney about how Indiana calculates child support. Eskew Law’s Indianapolis family law attorneys will explain the law and guide you through child support calculations.
We’ve helped many parents resolve child support disputes and reach a fair outcome. Give us a call at (317) 343-0560 today to set up a consultation.
What Is Indiana’s Child Support Law?
Indiana requires both legal parents to financially contribute to raising their children. When parents aren’t married, one is obligated to pay the other child support.
Usually, the parent who has less time with the children pays support to the parent who has them more often. The former is called the noncustodial parent, and the latter is the custodial parent.
A parent pays support until their child reaches 19 years old. Then they can ask the court to modify or stop their obligation through a Petition to Emancipate.
Whether or not parents have to contribute to higher education expenses depends on the situation. A custodial parent and their child can ask the noncustodial parent to contribute to college or other secondary education, but it isn’t always required by law.
The court reviews several factors to determine if it should require a parent to contribute to higher education expenses.
How Is Child Support in Indiana Calculated?
The Indiana Child Support Guidelines explain the income shares model. Under this model, a child gets the same portion of a parent’s income that they would’ve received if their parents lived together.
The guidelines require multiple steps:
● Complete Child Support Obligation Worksheet.
● Determine the gross income of each parent.
● Make certain adjustments to each parent’s gross income.
● Add the gross income of both parents together.
● Determine a percentage share of income for each parent.
● Review the amount in the child support tables, called the “Guideline Schedules for Weekly Support Payments”, to determine the total cost of supporting the total number children shared by both parties
● Add work‑related child care expenses and the weekly costs of health insurance premiums for the child(ren) to the child support amount.
● Prorate the child support obligation between the parents based on their proportionate share of the weekly adjusted income.
Let us explain each step a little more.
How Do I Calculate My Gross Income?
Child support calculations all start with adding up your weekly gross income. Indiana child support guidelines define weekly gross income as the actual weekly gross income of the parent if employed, potential income if unemployed or underemployed, and the value of “in‑kind” benefits.
In other words, weekly gross income includes income from any source. But keep in mind that some money is excluded from gross income.
Excluded income includes benefits from means‑tested public assistance programs (Temporary Aid to Needy Families, Supplemental Security Income, and Food Stamps) and survivor benefits received by other children in either parent’s home.
Adding up your gross income can be more difficult if you’re a freelancer or work inconsistently. Also, gross income for the purposes of the child support guidelines might differ from the gross income for your taxes.
Therefore, you can’t use this figure. We highly recommend working with a child support lawyer to make sure you get your gross income right.
You may have to provide documentation and the calculations to the court, so you can’t simply guess.
How Do I Adjust My Gross Income?
Indiana’s child support guidelines permit certain deductions:
● Adjustment for subsequent-born or adopted children;
● Court orders for prior‑born children;
● Legal duty of support for prior‑born children (but not for step-children) without a court order; and
● Alimony or maintenance.
Our Indianapolis family law attorneys make sure to apply any deduction that applies to your situation.
What Is the Basic Child Support Obligation?
After calculating your weekly gross income, you’ll look at the Guideline Schedules for Weekly Support Payment.
First, add both parents’ weekly adjusted gross incomes together, then find that amount on the Guideline Schedule in the far-left column.
Second, refer only to the number of children you share with the other parent and for whom child support is being calculated. The schedule gives specific amounts for one child through eight children or more.
For example, if your combined weekly adjusted income is $1,800 and you share two children, the basic weekly support amount is $368.
What Do I Add to the Basic Child Support Amount?
Once you find the basic child support obligation, you are not done. You have to add in work-related child care expenses.
Both parents might need child care while they’re working, and they can add in the costs of daycare, a babysitter, or similar child care arrangements. Each parent gets credit for their child care expenses as an adjustment.
Next, you add in the cost of health insurance for your children. The weekly cost of health insurance premiums for each child should be added whenever either parent actually incurs that expense or a portion of the expense.
You can also add in extraordinary health care or educational expenses if they’re necessary for any of your children. This will give you the total support obligation for both parents.
How Do I Find Out My Child Support Obligation?
Finally, you’ll multiply each parent’s percentage share of the total weekly adjusted income by the total child support obligation. For example, if you provide 70% of the weekly adjusted income, you’re responsible for 70% of the child support amount.
The law presumes the custodial parent spends their portion of the total support on the children, and the noncustodial parent pays their part to the custodial parent.
However, there are cases when a custodial parent might owe the noncustodial parent support. This can happen when the parents share parenting time almost equally, and the custodial parent has a much higher income.
What Factors Might Change the Child Support Obligation?
Various issues can increase or decrease, a parent’s child support amount, including but not limited to:
● Obligations to pay post-secondary education for a child;
● Weekly child care expenses;
● Weekly health insurance premiums;
● Parenting time (ie, parenting time credits); and
● Social security benefits.
In some cases, a parent receives credit for certain expenses, which reduces their child support obligation.
Because child support calculations aren’t simple and easy, it’s best to work with an experienced family law attorney in Indianapolis.
Even though Indiana provides a Child Support Obligation Worksheet, it’s better to have someone experienced calculate the amount.
Check Out Indiana’s Child Support Calculator
If you’re just getting started with a child custody or child support case, you may want a quick answer about the support you’ll owe or receive.
You can use the Child Support Calculator for Indiana. Keep in mind that this calculator provides an estimate, and to use it, you’ll need information about the other parent’s income and child care expenses.
Even though the calculator is a helpful tool, we recommend talking with an Indianapolis child support lawyer instead of relying on the calculator’s answer.
Can I Change Child Support?
Yes, child support will probably change throughout your children’s lives. Each parent can petition the court to modify a child support order when:
● There’s been a substantial and continuing change in circumstances that makes the current terms unreasonable, or
● The child support order is at least one year old, and a new calculation would differ by at least 20% from the amount that would be ordered by applying the Child Support Guidelines
We’re also here to help with child support modifications.
Contact an Indianapolis Child Support Lawyer Today
Eskew Law is ready to help you figure out child support. Reach out through our online form or call (317) 343-0560 to schedule a consultation.