There are several key components to Indiana child support laws that are used to determine child support in paternity and divorce actions initially and any modification, termination or emancipation thereafter. The first is the Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines, which presumptively apply in all child support cases. In other words, the Guidelines determine the presumptive amount of support to be paid; but the trial court may issue written findings by a support Rule to deviate from the Guideline’s determination of weekly child support (i.e., make it more or less for a payor parent).
The Indiana child support laws take each parent’s gross weekly income, provide some offsets (like day care and parenting time credit), and then set out a bottom line weekly support obligation that the non-custodial parent must pay to the custodial parent. In addition, child support laws by statute direct that the child support be paid pursuant to an income withholding order (known by the acronym “IWO”) to the clerk and through the Indiana State Central Collection Unit (known by the acronym “INSCCU”).
Under long-established child support laws, once child support is established, it can only be modified back to the date that the moving party filed a petition for modification. Therefore, if there is a legal basis to modify child support, the child support laws in Indiana make it an affirmative burden on the paying parent to file a petition to modify support on the earliest date which modification becomes apparent. Such a petition can be pending for weeks, months or years, but Indiana child support laws clearly state that child support can only be modified back to the date of filing.
In other words, if this mandatory child support modification petition is filed a year after losing employment, the modification can only occur back to the filing date, not the loss of employment a year earlier. This is true even despite the fact the spouse losing the job may have no income, and with a modification filing would have received a modification. The law is very clear on this issue, and it is critical to file a petition to modify as soon as there is a legal basis for such. Do not delay.
Aside from a modification of custody that would inherently involve modification of child support, the Indiana child support laws, which are set out by statute, require that to modify child support within one year, the payor parent must allege and demonstrate in the evidence a change in circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms of current child support unreasonable (MacLafferty v. MacLafferty, 2005). After one year, despite some change in income, such as a small raise or cost of living increase, there must be at least a 20% change in the amount of child support to be paid by the payor parent in order for child support to be modified.
Finally, Indiana child support laws allow child support to terminate when a child is legally emancipated, which may occur before age 18 (marriage or is living on their own and supporting them-self) or at 18 by statutory provisions, at age 19 as a matter of law, with higher-educational expenses continuing in certain circumstances with proper and timely filings for this higher-education expenses.
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