In these times of global financial uncertainty, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates observe that it is tougher than ever for divorced parents to make ends-meet. To some extent, this has always been the case. It’s a matter of basic economics–it costs more to run two different households, particularly on a single income if the other ex-spouses have not remarried.
This coupled, with recent revisions to the Child Support Guidelines, makes the idea of child support modification a more ready consideration, or down-right appealing, to many parents. However, a child support modification does not occur just because of the passage of time or financial needs. There is a legal standard the evidence must meet. This is the place to start.
If child support has been modified within one (1) year, the current child support obligation of the payor parent must be shown to be “unreasonable.” This may be demonstrated by the loss of a job or dramatic diminution of income or occurrence of some event, such as a catastrophic health condition.
The second circumstance in which child support may be modified is if a year or more has passed and the twenty-percent (20%) rule is met. This rule requires that with application of the Child Support Guidelines, which are presumed to reach the correct support amount, the amount of support paid would differ by more than twenty-percent (20%).
A good way to roughly determine this is by use of the Indiana Supreme Court’s child support calculator. With this, new weekly gross incomes can be plugged in, along with the variables in the formula and the new weekly support number compared with the current ordered amount. If it is over or close, it is wise to speak with counsel about modification (or the amount is unreasonable).
To make the most of an attorney consult, a number of items, reduced to a checklist, should be obtained, as applicable and enumerated as follows:
- A copy of the Clerk’s current child support docket showing payments made.
- A copy of all prior child support orders and worksheets. This may be the original divorce decree, but may in some cases be comprised of several subsequent modifications.
- A copy of any wage withholding order.
- A copy of the last three (3) years tax returns and six (6) current pay stubs.
- Written documentation of child support paid directly and outside the official child support account.
- Copies of any in-kind payments and contributions that may be deemed support.
- Records of any payments of uninsured medicals owed or paid under the six (6) percent rule.
With these in hand, you are better prepared for your attorney meeting. Recognize this is only a point of departure with counsel. The Child Support Rules allowed for Guideline deviation in virtually any prudent circumstance.
Nevertheless, if a support modification is potential, it is critical to remember that the time between gathering these documents and meeting with counsel and filing must not be lengthy.The reason for this is because child support may only be retroactively modified to the date the Petition for Modification is filed.
We hope you find this blog post a useful educational tool and a way to make the most of your attorney-client contact and relationship. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates handle cases throughout the State.