Indiana Child Support Updates (2024)
On October 17th, 2023, the Indiana Supreme Court issued an order amending the Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines. These amendments will alter the manner in which child support is determined and will go into effect on January 1st, 2024. Given the fact that child support orders can significantly impact one’s financial health, it’s vital that everyone subject to an order take the time to read and understand how these Indiana child support updates may impact their current situation.
If you have questions regarding the recent Indiana child support updates or concerns regarding child support, in general, do not hesitate to reach out to Keffer Hirschauer LLP. Our Indiana child support attorneys have a strong understanding of the Indiana child support guidelines and how they may pertain to your family law matter.
The Basics of Child Support in Indiana
As defined in Indiana Code 31-16-6-1, child support orders are an action in which a court may order either parent or both parents to pay any amount reasonable for support of a child/children after considering all relevant factors.
The support required under such orders is intended to cover the basic costs of supporting the child/children, like housing, food, clothing, educational expenses, work-related childcare costs, insurance premiums, etc. However, it’s important to remember that extraordinary costs – like emergency medical or extracurricular costs– may be factored into child support as well. Although, these may be divided between the parents, often in proportion with each parent’s weekly income.
Most commonly, child support orders are made following the initiation of a divorce proceeding, and then once again in the final divorce decree and judgment. When a Court issues such an order, it utilizes the Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines to determine which parent shall be responsible for paying the support and to what extent. Under these rules and guidelines, the following factors shall be considered:
- The number of the parties’ children
- 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
Depending on the costs or numbers associated with each of the items above, the amount of child support required is made using the Guideline Schedules for Weekly Support Payments and then making a final calculation using the Indiana Child Support Worksheet. The final calculation of child support 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.
While child support may seem like a simple concept, it is actually quite complex and it’s certainly something that should be discussed with an experienced Indiana family lawyer. Therefore, if you have any questions about child support in Indiana, do not hesitate to contact Keffer Hirschauer LLP at 317-751-7186. Our attorneys understand just how stressful divorce, custody, and child support proceedings can be and have the resources and insight to capably handle your child support matter.
Changes to Child Support Determinations
The most significant change included in the 2024 Indiana child support updates is the newly revised weekly child support schedule based on the Rothbarth method. Generally, the fundamental belief behind this new methodology is that the amount spent on children can be better inferred by actually examining how the parents reduced spending on themselves. This new method is based on recent consumer expenditure survey results and, according to the Court, has proven to more accurately reflect estimates of child spending.
Under this new schedule structure, support payments have either been increased or decreased, depending on adjusted income and number of children being supported. For example, the support amount required for a combined income of $1,800/week providing support to four children was increased from $518 to $548; in contrast, the support amount required for a combined income of $700/week was reduced from $245 to $227.
In addition to updating the weekly child support schedule, the order clarified that the “child support rules create a reputable presumption that the amount of the award which would result from the application of the child support guidelines is the correct amount of child support to be awarded. The creation of a rebuttable presumption recognizes the existence of factors or circumstances which are unable to be incorporated in the formulas used under the guidelines.”
The Court also chose to amend the list of situations that call for deviation from the Indiana child support guidelines. Effective January 1st, 2024, a non-custodial parent purchasing school clothes is no longer a situation calling for deviation, nor is one of the parents being required to travel “an unusually long distance” for employment. The Court did, however, add two situations to the list of deviations:
- Situations where parents share the controlled expenses of the child
- Situations when the children spend different numbers of overnight parenting time with the non-custodial parents
Finally, included in these most recent Indiana child support updates, is clear statement that “all attempts to deviate from the guideline amount must include submission of the Child Support Obligation Worksheet and reason(s) why use of the Guideline amount is unjust or inappropriate.”
Updates to Parenting Time Credit
The recent Indiana child support updates also address how a parenting time credit is calculated when a parent spends a different number of overnights with their children. As stated in the updated order, “In families with multiple children, a noncustodial parent may not exercise equal amounts of overnight parenting with all the children.”
Now, parents will use the following three-step methodology to calculate a parenting time credit:
- Determine the parenting time credit for the total number of children + each different set of overnights (if all the children are exercising the same number of overnights)
- Calculate the average of the different overnight parenting time credit dollar amounts
- Enter the averaged parenting time credit on Line 7 of the Child Support Obligation Worksheet for the noncustodial parent
Updates to Child Support and Healthcare
In addition to the changes made to how parenting time credits are calculated, the recent order updated the calculation for computing child support in instances of parents with split custody. Per these changes, uninsured health care expenses that are kept in the purchasing parent’s home shall now be covered by the parent with parenting time when the expense was incurred. Generally, controlled expenses, like uninsured health care expenses, include common over-the-counter items like bandages, medications, lotions, ointments and sprays.
The order further states that, “the parents shall share responsibility for uninsured health care expenses in proportion to their incomes.” In an effort to promote compliance with this element of the Indiana child support updates, the order adds that the court shall require “the parent providing health insurance to show proof of coverage; provide insurance cards, claim forms, website addresses, and any other material to permit claims to be filed with the insurance carrier; and give notice of any coverage changes, including termination of coverage, to the other parent.” The reason for the change, according to the order, was that the previous 6% of support allocated to health care was outdated and “often required burdensome record-keeping.”
Questions about Indiana Child Support?
If you have questions about these recent Indiana child support updates, the Indianapolis child support attorneys at Keffer Hirschauer LLP are here to help. We have a comprehensive understanding of all the relevant laws and how the recent changes could impact your current situation. To speak with a driven, experienced family law attorney today call 317-857-0160 or complete our online contact form to schedule a free consultation. Our team stands ready to assist you with this matter, and if needed, provide you with creative, cost-effective legal solutions aimed at protecting both your rights and self-interests.