Indiana Child Support Overview
In Indiana, both parents have an obligation to financially support their children. Child support is intended to cover the child’s basic living expenses, health insurance and potentially other child-related expenses.
Each state has guidelines for determining child support and Indiana is no different. The primary factors are each parent’s income and parenting time.
Usually, the parent who has less parenting time with the children pays child support to the other parent. The parent with less parenting time is referred to as the noncustodial parent.
How is Child Support Determined in Indiana?
Federal law requires the Indiana Child Support Guidelines to be applied in every instance where child support is established, including divorce, legal separation, paternity actions, juvenile proceedings, petitions to establish support, and Title IV D proceedings.
The Guidelines provide detailed steps for determining child support in Indiana. Indiana uses the Income Shares Model.
Here’s an overview of the steps in determining guideline child support:
- Complete the 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. Gross income includes income from any source. But some money is excluded from gross income. Also, gross income for the child support guidelines might differ from the total income reported on your tax return.
- 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 of children shared by both parties
- Add work-related child care expenses and the weekly costs of health insurance premiums for the child to the child support amount.
- Prorate the child support obligation between the parents based on their proportionate share of the adjusted weekly income. For example, if you provide 70% of the adjusted weekly income, you’re responsible for 70% of the child support amount. You’ll multiply each parent’s percentage share of the total weekly adjusted income by the total child support obligation.
Read More: How to File For Divorce in Indiana
Temporary Child Support
Temporary child support may be awarded by the court not to exceed 35% of the obligor’s weekly adjusted income. In no case shall child support and temporary spousal maintenance exceed 50% of the obligor’s weekly adjusted income.
Is there a minimum level of child support?
The Guideline schedules for weekly support payments do not provide an amount of support for couples with a combined weekly adjusted income of less than $100.
Instead, the facts of each case must be examined, and support set so that the obligor is not denied self-support at a subsistence level. That might be the case when:
- A parent has a high parenting time credit
- A parent suffers from a debilitating mental illness
- A parent is caring for a disabled child
- An incarcerated parent
- A parent or a family member with a debilitating physical health issue
- A natural disaster
The Indiana legislature requires the court to use the Guidelines to determine the financial contribution required from each parent of a child or the guardian of the child’s estate for costs associated with the institutional placement of a child.
The following child support forms are samples referenced in the Indiana Child Support Guidelines, and instructions for using these forms can be found in the rules.
Also, see Indiana’s Child Support Calculator, which generates completed court forms and the Guideline Schedules for Weekly Support Payments referred to in the rules.
Deviating from Guideline Child Support
Although using the Indiana Child Support Guidelines yields a figure that becomes a rebuttable presumption, there is room for flexibility. Courts have some flexibility when creating a child support order when it is determined the Guideline amount would be unreasonable, unjust, or inappropriate.
Several possible situations may prompt a judge to deviate from the Guideline amount. For example, some of those may include:
- One or both parties pay union dues as a condition of employment.
- A party provides support for an elderly parent.
- The noncustodial parent purchases school clothes.
- The noncustodial parent has extraordinary medical expenses for themselves.
- A parent is an armed forces member, and the military provides housing.
- The obligor still makes periodic payments to a former spouse under a prior Dissolution Decree.
- One of the parties is required to travel an unusually long distance in the course of employment on a regular or daily basis and incurs a considerable expense for such travel
- The custodial or noncustodial parent incurs significant travel expenses in exercising parenting time.
How is child support determined when parents share equal parenting time?
Parenting time is considered equally shared when split 181 to 183 overnights per year. To determine child support in these cases, the mother or father must be designated as the parent who will pay the controlled expenses. Then, the other parent is given the parenting time credit. The controlled expenses remain the sole obligation of the parent for whom the parenting time credit is not calculated. When both parents equally share parenting time, the court must determine which parent will pay the controlled expenses. If, for example, a father is the parent paying controlled expenses, the parenting time credit will be awarded to the mother.
Indiana courts will use the following factors in assigning the controlled expenses to a particular parent:
- Which parent has traditionally paid these living expenses?
- Which parent is more likely to be able to readily pay the controlled expenses?
- Which parent more frequently takes the child to the health care provider.
- Which parent has traditionally been more involved in the child’s school activities (since much of the controlled expenses concern school costs, such as clothes, fees, supplies, and books)?
Does bankruptcy end a child support obligation?
No, child support can’t be discharged through bankruptcy.
Read More: Divorce Laws in Indiana
Health Insurance and Child Support
In Indiana, the court bundles the cost of a child’s medical care into the overall child support order. Once the child’s portion of the health insurance premium is determined, that amount must be reasonable based on the parent’s income.
Health insurance may be public (i.e., Medicaid, Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Hoosier Healthwise), or private, such as Affordable Care Act (ACA) or employer-provided coverage.
Reasonable cost is determined using a Health Insurance Premium Worksheet that states the “reasonable” value.
If health insurance is reasonably available to one or both parents, the court may order a parent to provide the health insurance. If neither parent has health insurance available at a reasonable cost, the court will not order either parent to provide the insurance. The law defines “reasonable cost” as no more than 6% of the parent’s weekly gross income who is obligated to pay child support.
The parent who ordered or agreed to provide the health insurance will receive a credit against their child support obligation for the amount they pay.
If parents are unmarried when their child is born, Indiana law requires judges to order fathers to pay a percentage of the mother’s “costs of confinement” (that is, the reasonable and necessary expenses of the mother’s pregnancy and childbirth).
Health insurance may be public, for example, Medicaid, or Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), Hoosier Healthwise, or private, for example, Affordable Care Act (ACA) or employer-provided
Cash medical support is an amount ordered for medical costs not covered by insurance. When health insurance is not accessible to a child at a reasonable cost, federal law requires the court to order the parties to pay cash medical support. The uninsured medical expense apportionment calculation on the Child Support Obligation Worksheet, “the 6% rule,” satisfies this federal requirement for a cash medical support order when incorporated into the court order.
Extraordinary Medical Costs
Indiana has specialized guidelines for sharing a child’s extraordinary medical care costs separate from and in addition to basic child support payments. Extraordinary medical costs are generally generated by illnesses, hospital visits, or costly procedures such as getting braces.
When Does Child Support End in Indiana?
The noncustodial parent’s child support obligation automatically ends when a child turns 19 when a child is “emancipated by operation of law” (meaning, no longer entitled to financial support from a parent because of the passage of time). This applies even if that child is in college and still dependent on their parents for financial support.
A parent can emancipate their child after age 19 to not have to pay child support. A child can also be emancipated at 18 if they are not attending secondary or post-secondary school and financially supporting themselves or capable of doing so.
The exception to ending support is if the child is incapacitated and unable to be self-sufficient due to a medically disabling condition. In these cases, the noncustodial parent must continue to pay support until a court order ends the obligation.
Also, Indiana courts must emancipate children under the age of 19 if they marry, go on active duty status with the military, or are no longer under the care or control of a parent or court-authorized agency.
Child Support and Taxes
Child support payments are neither deductible by the payer nor taxable to the recipient. Don’t include child support payments received when you calculate your gross income.
However, you may be able to claim the child as a dependent. Generally, the custodial parent is treated as one who provides more than half of the child’s support. In some cases, the noncustodial parent may be treated as the parent who provided more than half of the child’s support.
Many agreements include a provision that each parent declares half the children as dependents when there is an even number of children. The parents alternate years claiming the child for an odd number of children. In this situation, parents may need to submit Form 8332, Release/Revocation of Release of Claim to Exemption for Child by Custodial Parent, or a similar statement.
How Do I Ask for Child Support in Indiana?
Complete and submit information through the Child Support Online Enrollment Form to request services. Take or mail the completed form to your county child support office.
You can also request services in person. Contact your County Prosecutor’s child support office. Go here to find the local office in your area.
Enforcing Indiana Child Support Orders
When a parent fails to pay child support that has been ordered, the payments become delinquent. The local child support prosecutor can go after the delinquent parent to enforce the child support order in several ways, including:
- Take the debtor’s federal or state income tax refunds, employer bonuses, insurance settlements, and lottery winnings
- Report the debt to a credit agency
- Suspend the debtor’s driver’s, professional, hunting, or fishing licenses
- Put a lien on the debtor’s vehicle
- Deny or revoke the debtor’s passport.
- Find the debtor in contempt of court, which can result in fines and possibly jail time.
Modifying Indiana Child Support Payments
If you are a noncustodial parent and can’t afford to pay your existing child support obligation, you can ask the court to modify it. This often happens with a substantial and continuing change, such as when a parent loses a job, is incarcerated, has a serious illness, endures a significant loss of wages, the birth of another child, etc.
You can request a modification if the previous order is at least 12 months old, and the amount of support calculated under the current Indiana Child Support Guidelines would be at least 20% different from the existing order.
To request a modification, the paying parent must file a formal request with the court that issued the original order. You are responsible for the existing court-ordered support until the judge orders a new amount. If the court permits a modification, it is not retroactive.
Similarly, if you are a custodial parent and believe the noncustodial parent is not paying enough, you may also go to court and ask for a modification as soon as possible.
Read More: 60 Actionable Tips to Help You Get Through a Divorce
Establishing Paternity in Indiana
A man is presumed to be a child’s legal father if he and his wife are married when the child is born or if the child is born no later than 300 days after the marriage ends.
Otherwise, legal paternity must be established through a Paternity Affidavit or Court Order.
A paternity affidavit is a legal document that permits a man and a woman to declare that the man is the biological father of a child. A properly executed paternity affidavit establishes legal paternity (fatherhood) and parental rights and responsibilities without the necessity of obtaining a court order.
A paternity affidavit may be completed at the hospital within 72 hours of the child’s birth or at a local health department any time before the child is emancipated. If paternity is established by paternity affidavit, the Department of Health will add the father’s name to the child’s birth certificate.
With a court order, either parent may file an action in an appropriate Indiana court seeking a determination of paternity. The county child support office may also file an action if the case is enrolled and open in their office.
After the action is filed, the court will set a hearing date. At the hearing, the parties may agree to paternity without the benefit of genetic (DNA) testing, request genetic testing to determine paternity, or the court may hear evidence and decide whether or not paternity should be established.
Which Agency Handles Child Support Matters in Indiana?
Indiana Department of Child Services provides child support services to custodial and non-custodial parents. Caretakers or relatives who have custody of a child may also enroll for child support services.
The Child Support Program assists with the following:
- Establishing paternity (determining the child’s biological father)
- Finding the non-custodial parent
- Establishing an Indiana child support order or making changes to an existing support order
- Establishing an order for health insurance and medical support for your child(ren)
- Collecting child support payments
- Determining the amount of past due child support
Elected prosecutors operating in a cooperative agreement with the Child Support Bureau provide child support services in each county. For information on County office operations, visit the Association of Indiana Counties or contact your local county child support office for hours of operation and services regarding your child support case.
If you have questions, call the Child Support Customer Service Center at 1 (800) 840-8757
- Automated phone service is available 24 hours, 7 days/week.
- Customer service hours: Monday – Friday, 7:00 am to 5:00 pm.
- Closed on State Holidays.
- Assistance is available in 170 different languages for live support calls.