Have you recently had a serious change in your financial status? Are you worried about how you will be able to make your next child support payment? An expert Merrillville family attorney can help legally advise you in the child support modification process. When your financial circumstances change, the Indiana courts have a process to work with you in creating the best modification plan. Please keep in mind that the best interest of your child is at hand in this process, which includes being able to find a sustainable amount of support to maintain their well-being and financial security. Here we will walk you through the steps you can take to modify your child support in Indiana. It is important to follow these specific steps to remain legal under the law.

The Payment Modification Process

According to Indiana law, there are two main components that a parent must meet to be able to modify the amount of their child support payment. 

First of all, the parent must be able to show that a substantial and continuing change of circumstances exists. This could include the loss of a job, an accident causing injury or disability, a new medical challenge, a change in location, and many other various circumstances. The second component requires that the previous child support order must be at least 12 months old (in other words, if your court order was issued in the last year, you will have to wait to file for a modification), and that the amount of support calculated under the Child Support Guidelines is different from the current order by at least 20%. Now we will look at how the 20% difference is calculated. 

Calculating Adjustments

There are many factors that can affect how child support is calculated in Indiana courts. If you are able to document that there has been a dramatic change in income, this will be one factor. The calculation also looks at who is paying for health insurance, childcare costs, and controlled expenses. Additionally, the calculation takes into consideration if there are any other children who are being supported, and if there is a cost of time and distance travelled, etc. If any of these contributing factors have changed since the order was last issued, this can also cause an adjustment to the new child support amount. The important thing to remember, is the amount of support calculated has to differ by at least 20% from the current order. To ensure that you are achieving a fair calculation, we recommend seeking counsel from an experienced attorney in Indiana law. 

Steps to Obtain a New Child Support Court Order

  • First of all, you will need to complete a packet of information regarding the details for modification. Signatures and dates are necessary to keep track of all documents. 
  • Next,  all confidential information must be filled out with careful consideration on the light green paper provided, so it is easily identifiable by the court. Social security information, bank account information, medical records, tax records, and child abuse records should all be filed on this light green paper in the child support packet. All other information will be filed on white paper. 
  • Then, you must make sure to take all of your forms that need to be filed with the court and have them stamped by the Clerk of the Court. 
  • Finally, if there is a disagreement regarding the modification terms with your former spouse, you are required to attend a court hearing. The judge will review all the information and make a ruling that is in the best interest of your child. 

Coming to an Agreement

One way to ensure that the process goes more smoothly is to have an agreement with your former spouse. Filing a petition for modification is still required in this case, but if both parties have reached an agreement beforehand, most courts will continue with the modification and can save you from attending an extra court hearing to dispute the differences on the child support worksheet. The form you are required to fill out also depends on the circumstances of your case. If you and your former spouse have reached an agreement on modification, you will use one form and you are required to complete a different form if you have not.

The courts look at each situation on a case-by-case basis, therefore we recommend using an experienced family attorney to guide you in completing these steps, and to help assess the circumstances of your case. With the help of an attorney, you can rest without worry knowing that all of your forms and documents are filled out and filed correctly and that you will be represented fairly in the eyes of the courts. 

Following an Order

Finally, it is important to note that until your child support order has been legally modified by the Indiana Court System, your old child support order is still in place. You are still responsible for abiding by the law for this order. The child support amount cannot be reduced until the modification is officially issued by the court, and you can be penalized for not paying the amount that you owe, even if you have reached a personal agreement with your former spouse. 

Again, please remember that a court order is the only legal way to modify your child support payment. If you lost your job, you must go through the process legally to apply for a change. If you are considering filing for a modification in child support, you may want to hire an experienced attorney to lead you through this process. 

Even if you decide not to hire a lawyer to handle your case, you may want to speak with an attorney before filing legal documents and forms with the court. We can provide resources and guidance at the Law Office of Julie R. Glade, RN, JD. For more information and to set up a consultation please visit https://www.julieglade.com/.