Child support often is one of the most hotly debated issues in divorce and paternity actions. Understanding the rules behind a child support calculation can help parents reach an agreement on the amount of child support that should be paid under the circumstances.
Parents have a legal duty to support their children, and Indiana has adopted state-wide Child Support Guidelines ("Guidelines") to establish a parent's level of support. A parent has a duty to support his child until the child is twenty-one (21) years old, or is emancipated, whichever comes first.
The Guidelines use an "income shares model" that is designed to provide a child with the same proportion of parental income that he or she would have received if the parents had remained living together. Child support is determined by considering the relative percentage of each parent's gross income and the number and ages of children in a parent's household. Other factors, such as work related child care expenses, as well as heath insurance premiums for children, also are considered.
For purposes of the Guidelines, "gross income" is construed broadly, and generally consists of all income, including salaries, wages, commissions, bonuses, overtime, dividends, severance pay, pension, interest, trust income, annuities, capital gains, social security benefit, workmen's compensation benefits, unemployment compensation, disability, gifts, prizes, alimony and maintenance from prior marriages.
A court also may order a parent to pay a reasonable amount for a child's post secondary education expenses. In making an order for education expenses, a court will consider the child's ability to contribute to the expenses, and may require the child to maintain a specific grade point average to receive support from his parents.
We have represented parents seeking to establish child support orders, to enforce child support orders, and to modify child support orders because of a change in financial circumstances. Regardless of the circumstance, we are prepared to guide you through the laws and regulations governing the support of a child.