Child Support and Custody: Interlinkages in Indiana Law

For decades child support was thought of as the amount Dad paid to Mom every week to help financially support the children. Now, not only is it not always Dad paying Mom, but in many cases Mom paying Dad, and in others, no one is order to pay child support.  This is due to significant changes in how child support is calculated. This blog explores child support and custody interlinkages in Indiana law and what other factors help to determine the amount of support and to whom it is paid. 

Prior to 1989 child support in Indiana was determined based on the financial resources of each party but left to the discretion of the court, causing a great deal of fluctuation in the amount of support orders from case to case. In October of 1989, the Indiana Supreme Court adopted the child support rules and guidelines to create more consistency in child support awards and improve the efficiency of the court when making those awards (Ind. Child. Supp. R. & Guid. 1). The guidelines use a mathematical equation to calculate child support based on each parents income and a handful of deductible expenses. This model is called the income shares model (National Conference of State Legislatures), and is structured to ensure that the child receives the same amount of financial support he or she would have received, if the parents lived together. In order to calculate this amount, the income and deductible expenses of both parents are required. Deductible expenses for purposes of a child support calculation include the child’s portion of health insurance premiums, child support and spousal maintenance orders, and childcare expenses. 

The Indiana Courts provide a child support calculator for parents to create their own child support worksheet. After providing the parties income and deductions, the worksheet requires the number of overnights each parent has with the child. This is where custody and parenting time tie into child support. Regardless of which parent is considered the custodial parent, each parent’s number of overnights with the child must be provided, then the worksheet will automatically calculate the amount of support for each parent. The parent with the least number of overnights will generally be the parent ordered to pay support to the other in the amount shown in their column on the worksheet. The court may, however, under limited circumstances, deviate from the child support worksheet and order a different amount to be paid. When this occurs, the court must make written findings describing the circumstances which make the guideline amount unjust (Ind. Child. Supp. R. & Guid. 3). 

No matter which parent is ordered to pay child support to the other, custody and parenting time are considered issues separate from support. This means that a parent may not withhold parenting time from the child’s other parent based on a child support arrearage (Ind. Par. Time. Guid. I (C)(1)). Whether a parent is current or behind on their support has no bearing on their right to exercise parenting time. A custodial parent who is not receiving court ordered child support can attempt to remedy the situation by filing a petition for citation, asking that the court hold the non-paying parent in contempt of court for failing to abide by the child support order (I.C. 31-16-12-1(1)). If the non-custodial parent is employed, the custodial parent may submit an income withholding order to the court for the judges signature and delivery to the non-custodial parent’s employer (I.C. 31-16-12-1(2)). An income withholding order will require the employer to withhold child support from the non-custodial parent’s wages and send it to Indiana’s central collection unit for distribution to the custodial parent (Indiana Department of Child Services).  It should be noted here that the parent submitting the order for the judge’s signature must have the name and address of the other parent’s employer, as the court is not responsible for locating this information. 

This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. It is for general educational purposes. The blog is not intended to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. The blog is not legal advice. This is an advertisement.


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