Determining appropriate child support is often a key component in many divorce and family law cases. Once it is determined how the parties will share custody of the child(ren), it becomes necessary to look at how the child(ren) will be supported. In Indiana, the Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines (herein, Guidelines) provide the framework for determining child support1.
Child support calculations are made by utilizing a formula, and there is a worksheet that allows parents to input numbers to be calculated by the child support formula2. However, what numbers are used and why?
The first number needed is the gross weekly income of the parties. The Guidelines provide that it was determined that gross income would be used versus net income to avoid having to account for the deductions for net income determination. To determine how net income was calculated, it is likely that discovery (information gathering) would be needed to find what deductions were being made from gross income.
The next numbers in determining child support are subsequent children and child support orders for prior born children. This takes into account that the children being support may not be the only children of each party, and that there needs to be some credit for caring and supporting other children from other relationships as well.
Next, the child support worksheet seeks information about childcare expenses and healthcare expenses. The parents can get credit for their payment of weekly childcare and healthcare (insurance) expenses. As the gross income of the parties is utilized, this allows for the deduction of insurance costs for the child in determining proper child support. Additionally, childcare expenses (work-related) is credited to the parent paying for same as well.
Another credit afforded under the child support worksheet is the parenting time credit. This asks for the input of overnights the parent paying child support has with the child. After a certain amount of overnights, credit may be given to the paying parent. This is for incidentals that are spent during parenting time by the parent paying child support such as food, activities, and other expenditures on behalf of the children.
The Guidelines provide a formula for child support, and take into account many variables to determine same. Often, discovery is necessary to help determine the information for the child support calculations. Knowing the “ins and outs” of child support can help one determine what information is needed and how to calculate child support in general.
We hope that this blog post has been helpful in understanding the basics of child support calculations. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. practices throughout the state of Indiana. This blog post was written by attorney, Jessica Keyes.