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Child Support – The Basics

Child Support – The Basics

One of the most contentious issues in family law is child support. There is a lot of confusion among the general public about child support, so here are a few important points:

What is child support?

Child support is the money that a noncustodial parent pays to a custodial parent to help in covering the expenses of raising and caring for a child. However, child support obligations may also exist in 50/50 custody situations if one parent significantly out-earns the other, as child support is meant to allow children to have substantially the same experiences in each household, no matter their parent’s earning capacity. Child support is designed to cover housing, food, clothing, medical expenses, and education. It does not cover extracurriculars like sports or piano lessons. Parents who are co-parenting should attempt to reach an agreement on those expenses among themselves (or include them in the divorce agreement).

How is child support calculated?

The calculations are made based upon gross income of both parents minus certain expenses, including alimony and support for other children. A parent is then credited for their contributions to childcare and health insurance premiums that they pay for the benefit of the child. The remainder of expected expenses are then divided according to the expected contribution of each parent, and the child support obligation is calculated.

When does child support end?

According to Indiana law, a child is emancipated for the purpose of child support at 19 unless a petition is made prior to 19 years of age for an order of support for higher education expenses.

What income is used to calculate support?

Gross income, the income used to calculate child support obligations, includes, but is not limited to, income from salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, overtime, partnership distributions, dividends, severance pay, pensions, interest, trust income, annuities, structured settlements, capital gains, social security benefits, worker’s compensation benefits, unemployment insurance benefits, disability insurance benefits, gifts, inheritance, prizes, and alimony or maintenance received. If a parent is voluntarily unemployed, the court may impute income upon that parent based on their earning capacity, taking into consideration their educational background, work history, and other sources of income available to them. Means-tested government support is not used to calculate child support obligations.

How do I get my child support changed?

Child support orders can only be changed by the court. To get an order modified, you must file a formal request with the court that issued the original order. To get the court to grant a change (either increase or decrease) you must prove that either there has been a substantial continuing change of circumstances since the last order or that the previous order is at least 12 months old and there would be a change of at least 20% under the current support guidelines. It is important to remember this if you lose your job or take a pay cut, as your current obligation will continue until you are granted a modification. If you are unable to make payments towards your support obligation, you may be found in contempt of court and may have significant child support in arrears to pay.

To get help with child support or any other family legal issue, contact the Family Law attorneys at McNeelyLaw LLP.

This McNeelyLaw LLP publication should not be construed as legal advice or legal opinion of any specific facts or circumstances. The contents are intended for general informational purposes only, and you are urged to consult your own lawyer on any specific legal questions you may have concerning your situation.

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