Child support can be critical to a child’s being fed, clothed and successful in society. It’s not optional, and it’s something the Indiana and Kentucky legal systems take seriously. Whether your child receives support from another parent or you are the one paying it, this area of law impacts both you and your child.
There are a lot of myths about child support; these are the truths:
- It’s not just paid by fathers to mothers. Mothers who earn significantly more than fathers could end up paying support to the fathers, regardless of the custody determination.
- It’s not a payment to the other parent. It’s a payment to the child.
- One parent can’t decide on his or her own that the child support is not needed or wanted. The child has a right to receive it.
- It doesn’t cover every expense related to caring for a child. It covers shelter, clothing and food.
- It’s none of the paying parent’s business exactly how the receiving parent spends it. As long as the child has a roof over her head, clothes on her back and food in her stomach, the money is being spent appropriately.
Indiana Child Support Disputes
Any time money is involved, disputes can arise — especially if the two parents don’t get along or don’t trust each another. The paying parent may believe the child support payment is too high. The receiving parent may think it’s too low. Disputes can arise over many issues, such as:
- Who buys the winter coat?
- Who pays for baseball?
- Why is Mom paying the co-pay if Dad pays for medical insurance?
- Why is child support being withheld from the parent’s paycheck?
How Indiana Child Support Is Determined
The amount of support, who pays it, and the division of other expenses is calculated using an application provided by the Indiana and Kentucky court systems. It can be complicated, much like preparing your taxes. Specific factors are considered and are part of the “formula,” including:
- Gross weekly income of each parent
- Whether a parent is already paying child support for other children
- Which parent is paying for the child’s health insurance and at what cost
- Which parent is paying childcare costs, and how much
- The number of overnight stays each parent has with the child.
After this information is provided, the application provides a weekly dollar amount and designates which parent is to pay. This technically is only a “recommended” amount, but it’s almost always used by the courts.
Parents may agree on a variation, but they must convince the court that it’s reasonable. A judge could also decide on his or her own that a variation is appropriate.
Every situation is unique, and we can help you navigate the process to find the amount that’s appropriate for you and your child.
Failure To Pay Indiana Child Support
There are “deadbeat moms” as well as “deadbeat dads.” No matter which parent you are, if you are ordered to pay child support but you fail to do so, the state will pursue you. Almost every county in every state has a branch of the prosecutor’s office dedicated to child support enforcement.
If you pay child support and feel the other parent isn’t living up to a custody order or agreement, you can’t retaliate by reducing or stopping payment of child support. Any problems with custody or visitation are separate from child support. If you can’t work out the problem between the two of you, your custody order needs to be enforced or modified through the court. If there’s only an informal custody agreement between the parents, it may be time to obtain a formal one.
You may want your child to attend college or further his or her education after high school. In Kentucky it’s unlikely a parent can be forced to pay college expenses without an agreement to do so. Under Indiana law, children and parents need to petition the court for contribution of college expenses from the other parent before the child turns 19.
Courts can impose sanctions for nonpayment of child support, from wage garnishment to jail time. Your income tax refund might also be reduced or eliminated because of your failure to pay. The state could revoke your driver’s license or other professional licenses. If you fail to pay child support for long enough, you could even lose your parental rights.
A child support order isn’t set in stone. It can and should be modified when circumstances change significantly. This can happen when either parent makes much more or much less than when the order was entered, when custody changes significantly, when a child becomes emancipated, or when a different parent starts covering health insurance or other expenses.
Child Support FAQs
Child support is a complex topic, and many of our clients have questions. Here are some of the questions we hear most often:
Why Is a Child Support Order Necessary?
Raising a child can be expensive, and each parent has a responsibility to financially care for their child, regardless of their own relationship
What Does Child Support Cover?
Child support is designed to ensure that the child’s basic needs are met in terms of food, shelter, education, medical expenses, and reasonable recreation.
What If Your Income Changes After Child Support Is Ordered?
The parent paying child support may request that the court reduce the amount of child support paid to reflect their current income, provided that they offer proof of their income to the court.
Who Is Entitled to Child Support?
The other parent or guardian of the child can demand child support, as well as a third-party individual who also has custody, or the County Attorney’s office.
Why Choose Us?
There are a number of family law attorneys who can help you with your child support case in Southern Indiana. There’s only one Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law. We have helped families through both mediation and litigation as well as helping to resolve family disputes. And we’re not simply limited to Southern Indiana. We represent 90 different counties throughout Indiana and Kentucky.
Child custody cases can be complicated and frustrating. You want to know that your attorney has the experience to help. That’s why Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law stays on the cutting edge of technology and constantly keeps our knowledge sharp when it comes to the law, so you can have confidence in our know-how. We also treat your case with compassion and care rather than judgment.
It’s the child’s right to receive financial support from both parents. The courts take that right seriously, and we can help you with every step of the process, whether that’s obtaining a child support order, modifying or enforcing it. If you have any questions about child support or need legal representation to protect your rights, call Church, Langdon, Lopp, Banet Law at 812-725-8226 or fill out our online contact form today.