What you need to know about Indiana child support
Ending a relationship is rarely easy. Even if no children are involved, when two people who have, for a long time, shared their lives, decide to split, there are many decisions that must be made. Who will get to stay in the family’s home? How will property be divided? Will one party get to keep a larger share of personal belongings in exchange for finding a new place to live? All of these questions must be answered for the parties to get on with their lives.
Those decisions become more complicated when there are children involved. In addition to safeguarding the children from as much impact the divorce or break-up will have on them as possible, there are also more practical considerations. If the custodial parent moves, will the children need to start a new school? Will the children have to give up favored activities if money gets tight for the custodial parent? Who will supply the children’s medical insurance and school supplies? What if a child has special needs? Who is responsible for those additional expenses?
The state of Indiana recognizes that as much of a gift as they are, it is expensive to raise a child; that is why the state allows the custodial parent to seek financial contribution from the non-custodial one in the form of child support.
Indiana’s child support statutes are set forth in Indiana Code Section 36-16-6. The provisions establish the circumstances under which child support can be awarded, the factors which Indiana’s family court judges can consider when making a determination about a child support request, the parameters of an award and what circumstances can terminate an award. According to the statute, child support can be requested during a divorce, an action for legal separation, or a paternity proceeding, as well as with an independent motion for child support.
Once a request has been made, judges must then determine whether the request should be granted. To do so, they can consider the factors set forth in Section 36-16-6-1 of the statute, including:
- The financial resources of the custodial parent
- The financial resources of the parent from whom support is sought
- The standard of living of the child (had the divorce, separation or paternity action not been necessary because the parents were still together)
- The physical and mental health of the child
- Any special educational or developmental needs of the child
Once an award has been ordered, judges are given the authority to dictate that the recipient of support set up an account at a recognized financial institution. The judge can further make decisions about the tax consequences for the parents, including who can claim the child as a dependent for tax purposes.
There are also provisions in the statute that determine when support payments shall terminate. Generally, child support terminates (for non-educational expenses) when the child turns 19 or becomes emancipated, but there are exceptional circumstances which could warrant a longer period of support.
Clearly, a child support award – whether you are seeking support or contesting a request made by your child’s other parent – is a technical matter, guided by statute but dependent upon the unique facts of your case. For help navigating the court system and setting forth a persuasive case in support of your position, contact an Indiana family law attorney.