Child support is often a point of discord among parties: the payor claims he or she cannot afford to pay the presumptive amount computed and determined by the Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines (viz-a-vie its Child Support Calculator); the recipient argues that the support does not maintain the children’s lifestyle, as it would have been, if the parties were married or had remained married.
It is not much easier for the bench and bar and litigants on less contentious legal issues because child support is the subject of numerous state and federal statutes, rules and regulations. In fact, the interplay, application and sheer complexity of these multiple sources of law sometimes confound the most seasoned attorneys and courts and litigants.
In this blog post, Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. hopes to provide you with some of the newest developments that are changing the face of child support, namely where child support is paid to and how it is collected and distributed to the custodial parent.
To properly understand these changes, a brief look into the past is necessary: In the not-to-distant past, the parties sometimes paid child support directly to the other by cash, check or money order. In many cases, this caused nightmare scenarios down the road, when the parents disputed what was paid, if it was paid, and what was a gift versus actual child support.
Payment through a child support account set up by the clerk of the county courts solved most of these problems. Lawyers almost universally pushed clients to pay and receive support through these accounts; because they created an official transaction record.
In later legal disputes, the point the litigation began was with the certified, official clerk’s child support record of payments. This kept the courts and parties and attorneys from looking through old (and generally inadmissible) copies of checks, receipts for cash, e-mails and the like to determine what was paid in child support.
The first big change to this more or less universal way child support has been handled–payment through the court clerk--occurred in 2007. At this time, the General Assembly, consistent with federal dictates, passed a precise income withholding statutory scheme addressing child support.
Under this statute, the general rule is that in any proceeding in which a court has ordered, modified, or enforced support, the court must include a provision ordering child support to be immediately withheld from the income of the obligor (the person paying support) by his or her employer. This is legally accomplished by a court order that is called an Income Withholding Order (“IWO”).
As with most legal rules, and consistent with the educational component and objectives of our blogs, what is key are the exceptions. Under these income withholding statutes, while a court must order an income withholding order, it may stay (stop) its enforcement in certain circumstances. The more common are listed for your consideration:
- A stay (of implementation of the income withhold order) is in the best interests of the child.
- The obligor has a history of uninterrupted full-time employment and timely child support paid to the custodial parent by other means.
- The court finds that an income withholding order would cause an extraordinary hardship on the obligor.
Perhaps these exceptions, or others, apply in your case? Talk through this with your counsel.
The second, and newest of the two (2) changes in child support discussed in this blog, occurs by where child support is to be paid. Given the vast number of ways child support may be ordered to be paid, employers, and their lobby groups, petitioned Congress to do two things relating to child support. The first is to dictate standardized child support Income Withholding Orders.
The second and, and point of this blog post, is employers’ desire for a central collection bureau in every state for remittance of income withholding payments. This has been established in Indiana; and it is called the Indiana State Central Collection Unit (“INSCCU”). The simplicity for the employer is obvious and apparent: pay support to one place (address), not to any of Indiana’s 92 counties, parties directly, or other states.
Related, under directives of the federal Office of Child Support Enforcement (“OCSE”) and Office of Management and Budget (OMB), all child support income withholding orders must now be issued and implemented on the new OMB-approved form for IWOs. There is a “fillable” PDF version of this in Indiana and this new form makes it easier for everyone.
With this uniform IWO, all child support payments must be directed to the INSCCU. For IWOs, again Income Withholding Orders, issued on or after May 31, 2011, the child support payments must be directed to the INSCCU. The INSCCU address for employer payments of employees’ child support is: INSCCU, P.O. Box 6219, Indianapolis, Indiana 46206.
Thus, most of the new cases filed today will not require change, as an IWO and payment to the INSCCU will automatically occur. With cases and IWOs issued before May 31, 2011, these take certain affirmative action. If the IWO does not direct payments to the INSCCU, it must be redone. In addition, if the IWO is not issued on the OMB-approved IWO standard form, it must be redone on this form.
Making this sensitive matter even more complicated is where this leaves employers. Under a guidance letter issued by the Indiana Department of Child Services on October 20, 2011, an employer can reject a new IWO under the federal regulations for several reasons, including the following:
- IWO is not on the OMB-approved from.
- IWO instructs the employer to send a payment to a place other than the INSCCU.
- IWO does not contain all of the necessary information for withholding.
- IWO form is altered or contains invalid information.
- IWO amount to withhold is not a dollar amount.
One other complication for non-custodial parents is the address to which he or she may send checks or money orders to the INSCCU. This is not the address for employer payments. Instead it is INSCCU, P.O. Box 7130, Indianapolis, Indiana 46207.
This is not for the faint of heart and is not easy–however perhaps it reflects the complexities of the decision to have children and the role of being a parent. At Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. we hope this blog post helps remove some of the confusion you might have about these new child support developments and how they effect you. If so, this blog post has met it purpose.
Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates practice throughout the State of Indiana. This blog post is written by Attorney Bryan L. Ciyou.