Child support lawyer based in Fishers, Hamilton County, Indiana
CHILD SUPPORT LAWYER FISHERS HAMILTON COUNTY INDIANA
YOUR CHILD COMES FIRST
Child support is a complicated subject that is often the source of major conflict in family law cases. Indiana has detailed child support guidelines and a child support calculator that can be found on the Indiana Supreme Court’s website. Determination of a party’s income can be complicated, and might include overtime, bonuses, commissions, and second jobs. There are various approaches for calculating income, depending upon the support payor’s occupation, earning history, education, earning capacity, etc. There is a parenting time credit for any parent who exercises at least 52 “overnights” with his or her child, so child support is tied closely to custody and parenting time. It may be necessary to determine which parent is going to pay the “controlled” (i.e. baseline) expenses for a child. Other issues include the cost of health insurance premiums for the child, daycare expenses, and whether one or both parties have other children and/or other support obligations.
The Supreme Court has mandated that its trial judges follow its support guidelines and that a child support worksheet or worksheets be done in every case. In general, domestic relations judges do not care how parties decide to divide their assets and liabilities in a divorce case, but the typical family law judge cares deeply about – and scrutinizes carefully – the child support calculations. Except in child-sharing cases (in which parties share the child equally), it is rare for a Court to approve a “no support” agreement between the parents. Courts typically view child support as “the child’s money,” and typically see it as their obligation to make sure appropriate child support is paid for every child.
A federal law known as Title IV-D established a national network of child support prosecutors whose job is to represent parents in the establishment and modification of child support. Unless child support is being addressed by private attorneys in a divorce, paternity, or modification case, the use of the federally-subsidized prosecutors may be a cost-effective way of establishing, modifying or enforcing a child support order. Of course, the prosecutors represent the state and not the individual litigants, so they technically do not provide individual legal advice. They do not get involved in custody or parenting time disputes, so these issues have to be resolved outside of the county’s Title IV-D court. There are some advantages and disadvantages to using this government service, so it is best to confer with a private attorney before pursuing this option.
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CHILD SUPPORT PROCESSES & PROCEDURES
UNDERSTANDING THE CHILD SUPPORT PROCESS
In Indiana, child support continues until age 19, even though a child technically becomes an adult at age 18. This creates a situation in which a party may be required to pay support for a child who does not want to exercise regular parenting time with him or her. (This can also happen with teenagers under the age of 18). In addition, an obligation to pay for at least a portion of a child’s post-secondary education costs may be imposed on top of the obligation to pay regular child support.
As a practical matter, the establishment of a child support obligation may create an initial burden on the party who is required to pay. The payor may have established obligations for expenses. Since child support is based upon a party’s gross income and is taken “off the top” (typically by garnishment of the party’s paycheck), it can be difficult for a party to pay his other expenses and obligations. In turn, this can make it difficult to reach agreements with opposing parties who may not be committed to supporting his or her child (or may resent having to pay to the other parent). Sometimes, the initial support order will need to be established through mediation or by the Court after a hearing.
Failure to make all court-ordered support payments can have serious adverse consequences. Prosecutors enforcing a support order may make adverse credit reports, seek suspension of a party’s driver’s license and/or seek suspension of a party’s professional license, among other remedies. Child support arrearages are not dischargeable in bankruptcy. Although there is a time limit for enforcing support obligations (10 years after the youngest child’s 18th birthday), a party can sue to collect a support arrearage years after a child is emancipated (at age 19). A party can also be jailed for civil contempt for failing to make child support payments. This is the only situation in which a party can be jailed for non-payment of the debt in the United States.
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Disclaimer: The results provided are not necessarily representative of the results or of the experience of all clients or others with the lawyer/firm. Every case is different, and each client’s case must be evaluated and handled on its own merits.