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Revisions to Child Support Guidelines Under Consideration

Child support is a complicated issue financially as well as emotionally. It is not uncommon for some amount of tension to exist between parents over the payment of child support, with each thinking the other is either not paying enough or using the money for personal luxuries. The law on this issue is quite complex, including how child support is calculated, how long support must be paid, and the costs child support is supposed to cover.

In order for a law to be most effective, it should be reviewed periodically for revisions that become necessary as society changes or because the current application of the law is not working as well as it could. Child support is getting its turn at possible changes as the current guidelines are being considered for revision by the Domestic Relations Committee of the Judicial Conference of Indiana. The proposed changes are open to public comment, and address support of prior-born children, health insurance costs, and imputing income to unemployed parents, among other issues. These changes could substantially impact the obligations of certain separated and divorced parents, and an overview of the major revisions the Committee is considering, prior to formally adopting changes, will follow below.

Prior-Born Children

Not all separated parents go through a legal process to establish a child support obligation. Many work out an informal plan between them, and most adhere to them. If at some point a parent in this arrangement seeks a court order for child support, perhaps for a later-born child, the new proposed guidelines would permit the deduction of this support from the calculation of the child support obligation for the new children. This would particularly help those parents raising a child without the support of the other parent receive credit for the support they are providing so they are not disadvantaged when the child support is calculated for new child.

Health Insurance

Child support orders must also account for health insurance for the child, and the parent with access to better coverage is usually obligated to put the child on his/her plan. Because this cost can be considerable for many parents, some will qualify for federal tax credits to help offset this financial obligation. To keep things fair for purposes of calculating support, a parent who receives the tax credit will have it deducted from the premiums paid. This way the parent is not receiving the tax credit and getting credit for the full amount of the insurance premium. As a consequence, the amount contributed to the child’s support will go down and the parent may be evaluated as having the ability to pay a higher monthly amount.

Imputed Income

When a parent is voluntarily un- or under- employed, the law permits the state to impute or assume the amount of income that parent would be earning if properly employed. This measure is meant to ensure that obligated parents do not quit their jobs to avoid paying child support. Instead, the courts will order them to pay an amount that takes this issue into account. Under the proposed changes, the factors used to assess this potential are expanded to include:

  • Assets;
  • Residence
  • Employment and earnings history;
  • Literacy;
  • Health;
  • Age;
  • Criminal record or other employment barriers; and
  • Highest level of education achieved.

In addition to clarifying this assessment, the proposed changes would also limit the child support to an amount that would not jeopardize the parent’s ability to support him/herself.

Talk to an Indiana Family Law Attorney Today

Child support is a central issue to any single parent, and if you have questions about this area of the law, talk to a family law attorney to find out how the law applies to your situation. Christopher L. Arrington, P.C. understands all the nuances that can affect the outcome of a child support case and is ready to help you get the best possible results. Contact an Avon family law attorney to schedule an appointment.

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