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.
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 812-725-8224 or fill out our online contact form today.