Perhaps the most common Indiana child support guidelines question is whether a trial court can order more or less child support than is computed by application of the Guidelines. The answer is clearly, “yes.” The Indiana Supreme Court and Indiana Court of Appeals give great deference to trial courts, and the difficult decisions they face in weighing the evidence in all family law matters, including child support.
The Indiana child support guidelines have three enabling Rules that allow for deviations if the trial court enters written findings stating its reason for deviation. However, most of the time, Indiana trial courts follow the Indiana child support guidelines. The reason is because they are based on a complex algorithm that tries to approximate costs in a divorce situation and maintain a lifestyle that the children would have had if the parents had not divorced. Many professionals, from economists to judges and lawyers, work on these mathematical models and change them from time to time to make them better and in line with the present state of affairs with each revision.
How deviations are thought about and arise in child support cases typically is insufficient: the custodial parent will argue that the children need more child support, whereas the noncustodial parent will argue that he/she cannot afford to pay any more child support and maintain any semblance of a lifestyle. Both of these arguments standing alone are likely to fail.
However, within the commentary to the Indiana child support guidelines there are numerous reasons that this general argument may be expanded and prevail. For instance, if a non-custodial parent has a health problem that with guideline support would prevent him or her from being able to afford prescription medication, the court may issue a written deviation from the child support guidelines.
After child support is established, it may be modified within a year if it can be shown to be unreasonable or, after one year, if under the application of the Indiana child support guidelines, there is a 20% difference in the amount of child support to be paid based on the computations under the guidelines.
Child support continues until a child is emancipated as a minor, turns 19, and after college and expenses related to the higher-education are finished, if the latter is timely and proper filings for same have been made with the trial court. Ultimately, the Indiana child support guidelines are designed to be flexible enough for a trial court judge to strike the right balance in the amount of child support ordered to be paid by the non-custodial parent so that the child can benefit, but the parents also are able to both spend quality time with the child and not live an impaired life.
Proven & experienced attorneys successfully advocating & resolving complex cases for over 25 years