How Do I Determine Child Support in Indiana?
It’s a complicated task for unmarried or divorced parents in Indiana
on June 11, 2018
Updated on March 28, 2022
Child support in the Hoosier state is determined through the “income-shares” model—thought to be one of the fairest ways to figure out child support because the child support calculator includes both parent’s incomes. It’s based on the concept that the child should receive the same proportion of parental income that he or she would have received if the parents lived together. The income shares model is expressed in the state’s child support guidelines, a lengthy and complicated list of rules that courts must follow to set or modify child support.
Must the court use the guidelines?
In any proceeding for child support, there is a “rebuttable presumption” under the law that the child support amount that results from the application of the guidelines is the correct amount of child support to be awarded. Basically, the court will require strong evidence the guidelines should not be used in determining child support.
The court can deviate from the guidelines if it finds application of the guidelines would be unjust. That means the court can adjust the amount of support upward or downward, based on reasoning the guideline amount is unfair. Some examples of reasons the court may find guideline support unjust may include:
- Non-custodial parent incurs significant travel expenses for parenting time
- Non-custodial parent incurs significant costs for child clothing, daycare, furnishings, activities, etc.
- Non-custodial parent incurs significant medical expenses, medical care or substantial health insurance premiums
How to calculate basic support under the guidelines
Calculating child support under the guidelines is not simple. However, the state of Indiana has an online calculator that will help determine a parent’s child support payment. To use the calculator and calculate child support, a parent will need some basic information.
First, you need to know the gross incomes for both parents. In Indiana, gross income for support purposes includes income from all sources, potential income if under-employed, and imputed income for any in-kind benefits received through employment (like free use of vehicle for personal use).
Then, the law allows some deductions from each parent’s gross incomes. Those deductions include:
- Support payments for prior born children
- Support payments for subsequent children
- Alimony or maintenance payments
Adding all sources of income and deducting allowable expenses results in the parents’ adjusted income. Both parents’ incomes are then combined into a combined adjusted income total. Using the online chart corresponding to the combined adjusted income results in the Basic Child Support Obligation (BCSO). In Indiana, child support is paid weekly, so figures will need to be adjusted to a weekly gross income.
How to determine child care and health care costs
After determining the BCSO, additional necessary expenses for the child are added to the BCSO. Those expenses include:
- Work-related child care expenses
- Child health care expenses
- Extraordinary child health care expenses
- Extraordinary child educational expenses
Demonstrating the complexity of the Indiana guidelines is the rule for extraordinary health care expenses, called “the 6 percent rule.” This rule determines the amount of extraordinary health care expenses each parent will pay. These are uninsured expenses in excess of 6 percent of the BCSO. Calculation of the apportionment of the health care expense obligation (as well as the child care expense obligation) is a matter separate from the determination of the weekly child support obligation.
How to figure out the parenting time credit
Another somewhat complicated aspect of the child support guidelines is the formula to determine credit for overnight parenting time. Under Indiana law, the non-custodial parent can reduce their child support obligation by increasing the number of overnight visits with their child. To determine the amount of the weekly credit, a parent must complete the online worksheet. It is too difficult to estimate the credit in general as it varies significantly for each non-custodial parent.
Determining a child support obligation under the Indiana child support guidelines is no simple task. Further, if there are reasons to deviate from the guidelines this becomes a complicated argument for a parent going into court. Parents should ensure they understand their potential child support payment by consulting early in the process with an experienced Indiana family law attorney.
For more information on this area, see our overview of family law.