In the past child support awards differed according to the local county and judge. However, since 1989, the courts in Indiana have followed the state's Child Support Guidelines.
The Child Support Guidelines have three goals: to establish appropriate child support subject to the parent's ability to pay; make support awards equitable and ensure people in similar circumstances receive consistent treatment; and to improve the efficiency of the court process by promoting settlement and providing guidelines. The Guidelines award is presumed to be proper by courts and a reason is needed to deviate from the suggested award.
Income is the primary consideration in a child support determination. The income shares model is designed to make sure a child receives the same proportion of parental income he or she would have received if the parents lived together.
To determine the appropriate child support award:
- The weekly gross income is calculated for each parent. Weekly gross income includes, but is not limited to, salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, overtime, pensions, severance, workers' compensation, unemployment insurances benefits, gifts, inheritances and spousal maintenance from a prior marriage.
Each parent completes a worksheet listing their income. Each worksheet must be signed by the parent. Income must be verified with documentation of past and current earning. Pay stubs and past tax returns are often used to prove income.
- A basic support obligation is found using the parents' total income and a support schedule.
Certain payments are deducted from the total income, such as, court-ordered child support for prior children and spousal maintenance from a prior marriage.
- Additions will be made to the child support obligation for expenses such as child care, health insurance for the child and extraordinary health or educational costs.
- The support obligation is pro-rated between the parents based on their proportionate share of the total income. Dividing the weekly income of each parent by the total will give you each parent's percentage share of the income. Each parent's child support obligation is determined by multiplying his or her percentage share of the total weekly income times the total child support obligation.
- Adjustments might be made to the child support obligation, if a parent will pay for child care or health insurance premiums. A parenting time credit may also apply. Deviations from the guideline amount are also occasionally granted.
- The court will finally order the non-custodial to pay his or her pro-rated child support amount to the custodial parent.
Child support is a complicated determination; contact an attorney to discuss your rights and obligations.