Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Divorce: What to Expect: Child Support

In Indiana, in any Dissolution of Marriage, Post-Dissolution, or Paternity action, the court will enter a child support obligation to be paid by one of the parties, (typically, the noncustodial parent). The Indiana Child Support Guidelines are presumed to be applicable in every such proceeding and govern the payment and determination of child support. The Guidelines are based on the “Income Shares” theory; specifically, that both parents are responsible for the support of a child based upon their respective income shares. The underlying philosophy is that a child should be provided the same lifestyle which would have been afforded to him/her had the family remained intact or had the parties married. The Guidelines are presumed to apply in each case unless a reason can be shown as to why a deviation from the calculated obligation is warranted. In determining the support obligation, child support calculators are used to create a Child Support Worksheet, which must be filed with the Court in each proceeding. In addition to the parties’ gross incomes, other factors included in determining the support obligation are: actual work-related childcare expenses, healthcare insurance premiums for the children, parenting time overnights exercised, support or maintenance received or paid, and subsequent children in either parties’ home. When a Court deems appropriate, numerous benefits received by one party, including parties’ bonus incomes, commissions, or even regular gifts from family or friends, may be included as income for support purposes.

There are a number of reasons to deviate from the presumed obligation by the Guidelines. These include, but are not limited to, voluntary unemployment or under-employment by one of the parties. If a Court finds either of these to be a factor, it may impute potential income to that party for purposes of determining support.

There are cases wherein clients propose to their attorney an agreement with the opposing party to forgo the receipt of support. This is not appropriate in most cases. Such an arrangement may be appropriate if the parties equally share physical custody of the child(ren) and agree to share expenses due to the fact that their incomes are relatively similar, however, parties must understand that it is not their right to waive support for the child(ren), rather it is the child’s right to receive the same. Issues with respect to child support are very fact sensitive and different issues will arise in each case. A thorough knowledge and understanding of the Guidelines is necessary to determine the appropriate obligation in any given case when issues arise.

At Hollingsworth & Zivitz, P.C., our team has the experience, the understanding, and the compassion to assist with your family law needs. If you have questions or concerns regarding divorce, custody, support, or any other family law concerns contact our firm at 317.DIVORCE or visit our website at www.hzlegal.com.

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