A divorce ends a marriage, but usually, if the marriage produced children, divorce does not end the relationship between the parents. In most cases, after a divorce in Indiana, a non-custodial parent pays child support regularly to the custodial parent until the child reaches the age of 19.
But how is child support handled when the arrangement is joint custody – that is, when both parents are in effect “custodial” parents? Especially if you’re a parent and you’re going through a divorce – or expecting to – can a Merrillville child support attorney help?
When parents are awarded joint custody of their child or children after an Indiana divorce, the child or children have continuing, regular contact with both parents. Joint physical custody in Indiana means nearly equal parenting time – approximately 182 days and nights a year.
HOW IS CHILD SUPPORT HANDLED IN JOINT CUSTODY SITUATIONS?
When joint custody is awarded, Indiana courts handle child custody differently than they handle a sole custody arrangement. The court calculates the gap between the incomes of the two parents, and the higher earner typically makes some kind of child support payment to the lower earner.
When there is no significant difference in the net incomes of the two parents, in most cases, no child support order or payments are necessary or required.
WHAT’S CONSIDERED WHEN CHILD SUPPORT AMOUNTS ARE CALCULATED?
When determining whether or not child support payments should be ordered in a joint custody arrangement, an Indiana court takes these factors into account:
1. Gross earnings: Pay stubs and tax records are used to establish each parent’s gross earnings. Indiana requires the consideration of both parents’ incomes to determine child support payment amounts.
2. Deductions: Several deductions allow for an adjustment of a parent’s income, such as health insurance for the child or children and any child support payments the parent makes for other children.
3. Overnight visitations: Indiana doesn’t count daytime visitations when calculating child support amounts – only an overnight visitation is counted as a parenting time credit.
An Indiana court may modify the calculated child support figure if the court believes a different amount is more appropriate. In any legal case that involves children in this state, the court will make its determination based on what it perceives to be the best interests of the child.
State courts in Indiana do not usually require child support from parents who are diagnosed with a mental incapacity, parents who have been sentenced to prison or to jail, and parents who are supporting another child if that other child has a disability.
HOW DOES INDIANA ENFORCE CHILD SUPPORT ORDERS?
Indiana’s child support requirements are intended to guarantee that our state’s children have adequate food, clothing, shelter, and healthcare. If a parent fails to pay court-ordered child support, interest on delinquent payments may be charged at 1.5% per month.
The state of Indiana enforces child support orders in several ways, including but not limited to:
1. seizing state or federal tax refunds, insurance settlements, or lottery winnings
2. placing a lien on a parent’s personal vehicle
3. revoking or denying the parent’s passport
4. suspending state-issued professional licenses and driver’s, hunting, and fishing licenses
All Indiana parents are obligated by law to support their children until the child turns 19, marries, or goes into active military duty. An Indiana court may order child support payments to continue past a child’s 19th birthday – until further order of the court – when the child is disabled.
WHEN CAN CHILD SUPPORT BE ENDED? WHEN SHOULD IT BE MODIFIED?
A court in this state may also terminate a child support order if a child is at least 18 years old, the child has not attended an educational institution in the previous four months, and the child is capable of supporting himself or herself financially.
Court-ordered child support for multiple children does not automatically change in Indiana when one child turns 19 and no longer needs the child support. A paying parent must request a formal modification of the court order to determine a fair payment figure for the remaining children.
If you’ve been ordered to pay child support in this state – whether you’re a non-custodial parent or it’s a joint custody arrangement – and you lose your job, suffer a disabling injury, or for any reason become unable to make payments, speak at once to a Merrillville family law attorney.
HOW CAN A FAMILY LAW ATTORNEY HELP?
To receive child support payments in Indiana, you must obtain a court order, and you’ll need a good lawyer’s help. Indiana child support orders cannot be changed without at least one parent submitting a formal modification request to the court.
If you’re a parent, and you’re divorcing or anticipating divorce in Indiana, a child support order will probably be a part of your final divorce decree. You must have an experienced divorce lawyer advise you and protect your rights from the beginning of the divorce process.
Your Indiana divorce lawyer can handle every aspect of your divorce: the child custody and child support issues; the division and distribution of properties, assets, and debts; and spousal maintenance when appropriate. Find an attorney who gives you confidence – someone you trust.
Divorce in Indiana – and the related matters such as child custody and the division of assets – can be quite complicated, so if you are divorcing in or near Merrillville, it’s imperative to have the advice and services of a qualified Merrillville family law attorney.
WHAT ARE THE ADVANTAGES OF AN UNCONTESTED DIVORCE?
If you plan to divorce, your options are an uncontested divorce, meaning that you and your spouse will make the decisions, or a contested divorce, meaning that you and your spouse will go to court and a judge will settle the matters that are in dispute.
Divorcing couples usually disagree on plenty – it’s why they’re getting divorced. In Indiana, if both spouses can agree to the terms of a divorce, and they simply wish for the court to approve those terms, it’s an “uncontested” divorce. That can save a couple substantial time and money.
If you are divorcing in the state of Indiana, or if you are involved in any dispute regarding child custody, child support or any other matter of family law, get in touch with an experienced family lawyer at once. Having a good lawyer’s help is your right.