Controlled Expenses and Indiana Child Support
When two parents are divorced, it can be difficult to know who is supposed to pay for ordinary, everyday things like back-to-school supplies or new winter clothes. That’s where the topic of controlled expenses and Indiana child support comes into play. Generally, the custodial parent is responsible for covering controlled expenses. However, not every support order is the same, nor is every custody situation.
Given this, if you’re having trouble understanding what expenses you or the other parent are responsible for paying, you’ll want to speak with the Indiana family law attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP. With our deep understanding of the nuances of Indiana family law and extensive family law litigation experience, we are highly qualified to serve your legal needs.
To speak with an attorney from Keffer Hirschauer LLP today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. We are more than happy to lend you a helping hand as you navigate an issue related to family law.
The Basics of Indiana Child Support
As stated in Indiana Code 31-16-6-1, child support orders are actions in which the court may order either parent or both parents to pay any amount reasonable for support of a child/children, without regard to marital misconduct, after considering all relevant factors. These orders are intended to cover the basic costs of supporting the child/children. Basic costs can include housing, food, clothing, educational expenses, work-related childcare costs, insurance premiums, etc. In addition, extraordinary costs – such as emergency medical costs or extracurricular fees – may be factored into child support as well, although they’re often divided in proportion to each parent’s weekly income.
When making a child support order, courts shall determine who must pay child support and to what extent by using the child support formula contained within the Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines. In Indiana, the child support calculation considers the following factors:
- The number of children the parties have
- Each parent’s gross income
- Each parent’s child support obligations to other children
- Spousal maintenance obligations
- Work-related childcare costs
- Health insurance premiums for the children
- Post-secondary educational expenses, if applicable
- The number of parenting time overnights allocated to each parent
Based on the costs or numbers associated with each the items listed, the amount of child support is determined by reference to the Guideline Schedules for Weekly Support Payments and then making a final calculation using the Indiana Child Support Worksheet. The final calculation of a support obligation computes the total amount required to support the parties’ child or children and allocates each parent’s child support obligation based on his or her proportionate gross income and child-related expenses paid.
Controlled expenses per the Indiana child support guidelines are defined as “expenses for children that are typically paid by the custodial parent and are not transferred or duplicated.” This could include items like clothing, education, ordinary uninsured health care, and personal care. For the purposes of this definition, “education” expenses could mean textbook rental, school supplies, laboratory fees, and lunches.
As stated earlier, every support order is unique to the circumstances of the family involved. But it’s important to understand that non-custodial parents receive “credit” toward their child support obligation for each overnight the child spends with them. This credit is intended to help cover the expenses they inevitably incur. Given this, the fewer overnights that the non-custodial parent exercises, the less credit they will receive and the higher their support obligation will be. Therefore, it should come as no surprise that the parent responsible for covering controlled expenses is the custodial parent. This is because expenses are typically factored into the child support obligation that the non-custodial parent is required to pay, and that obligation is typically higher since the non-custodial parent is receiving fewer overnight “credits.”
In situations where the two parents have 50/50 custody of the child and there is no primary custodian, the two parties must decide who will be responsible for the “controlled” expenses or seek a court order to do so. When making this determination, courts will consult the Indiana Child Support Guidelines and consider the following factors:
• Which parent has traditionally paid these 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)
Since the court assigns responsibility for these controlled expenses, the court should award the other parent the parenting time “credit.” However, in some ways, this “credit” actually is disadvantageous to the parent, as it means they will have a higher support obligation since they’re sharing parenting time equally with the other parent.
In contrast to controlled expenses in Indiana, there are also “extraordinary expenses,” which are expenses that are optional, by nature. This could include costs related to attending a camp, participating in sports or other extracurricular activities, scouting, etc. These costs are not included in the child support formula, and therefore it’s recommended that when both parents agree that a child may participate in an optional activity, they should pay their pro rata share of those expenses.
Documenting Controlled Expenses
While courts don’t typically require parents to document their expenses, it’s generally a good idea to document controlled expenses. This could prove to be beneficial in situations where there is a dispute between the parents over how support money is being spent. Per Indiana Code 31-16-9-6, courts do have the ability to order “upon a proper showing of necessity, the spouse or other person receiving support payments to provide an accounting to the court of future expenditures upon such terms and conditions as the court decrees.”
Questions about Indiana Child Support or Controlled Expenses?
When dealing with matters related to controlled expenses and Indiana child support, it’s best to work with an experienced Indiana child support lawyer. Here at Keffer Hirschauer LLP, we employ a well-versed legal team of family lawyers who fully understand how stressful matters of child support can be. We provide each of our clients with personalized, compassionate representation and aggressive advocacy, aimed at securing the best possible outcome in the situation at hand. To speak with one of our Indiana family attorneys today, call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. We’ll gladly walk you through the ins and outs of Indiana child support, and help you gain a stronger understanding of your position in the matter.