The Indiana Supreme Court has adopted the Indiana Child Support Guidelines as a tool to assist in determining the correct amount of child support based upon a duty to support a child, using the financial resources of the parties, needs of a child, and the standard of living the child would have enjoyed had the parties remained together. In any case there are certain events that can trigger the need to modify the court ordered child support amount. The most important thing to remember when considering filing for modification and when same should be done immediately, is upon certain triggering events, as the modification date is typically based upon the date that it is filed. In some cases the modification can be retroactive to an earlier date than filing, but it truly depends upon the basis for modification.
1) The first reason for immediately filing for modification of child support is based upon a child turning age 19, especially when there is another child or children for which there remains a child support duty(order). Child support is not automatically modified when a child turns 19 and a parent is no longer responsible for child support for that child, unless it is the only child, or the youngest child for which child support is ordered. A child support modification must be filed to change the child support order for the remaining child or children for which child support is ordered.
2) The second reason to immediately file for modification is when there is a period of unemployment. Again, it is imperative to immediately file when a period of unemployment or a significant reduction in income is experienced, as same will only go back to the date of filing. The could also be due to a significant hospitalization or taking a Family Medical Leave, under the FMLA.
3) The third reason to immediately file for modification is when there is a significant change in child care expenses, such as when a child no longer requires child care, or when a child begins school and only requires before or after care. This could lead to a significant reduction in child support. Clearly in many circumstances there are reasons that care may still be necessary on breaks, but overall there is typically a significant reduction in child support.
4) The fourth reason to immediately file for modification is if there is a significant change in health insurance expense. This can happen when the parent who had the children covered on their health insurance no longer does and is receiving a credit for same on the child support worksheet, or if health insurance expenses increase dramatically. A significant health insurance increase can happen when a child is able to be covered under an insurance plan that had previously been enrolled through Medicaid or Hoosier Healthwise.
There may always be other reasons to modify child support. We hope that this post has been informative about child support modifications and when you should seek to modify child support orders. This is not intended to be legal advice. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the greater Indianapolis area and the State of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Julie Dixon.