A modification case can address all three (3) issues of child custody, parenting time, and child support. Or it may only address one (1) or two (2) of these issues. It depends on what a party is asking to have modified, whether the modification is granted, and if the modification directly affects one of the other issues. This blog looks at how custody, parenting time, and child support are interrelated and when a judge might address all or only part of these issues in a modification case.
When a petition to modify child support is the only modification request filed, that is the only issue that will be addressed by the court. As parenting time and physical custody are not affected by a change in the amount of a party’s child support obligation.
Parenting time modification, on the other hand, could require that the court also address child support. The Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines provide a parenting time credit based on the number of overnights per year that the child spends with the non-custodial parent. An increase in overnight visits may decrease a parent’s support obligation and vice versa.
However, modification of a child support order will not be considered simply because the number of overnight visits with the child has changed. Modification may only be made “(1) upon a showing of changed circumstances so substantial and continuing as to make the terms unreasonable; or (2) upon a showing that: (A) a party has been ordered to pay an amount in child support that differs by more than twenty percent (20%) from the amount that would be ordered by applying the child support guidelines; and (B) the order requested to be modified…. was issued at least twelve (12) months before …. requesting modification…” A change in the non-custodial parent’s overnights would rarely, if ever, be considered substantial nor would it change the amount of the current support obligation by more than 20%. There would need to be an additional change in circumstances, that together with the change in overnight visits, met one of these requirements.
Lastly, a modification of physical custody from one party to the other may require that parenting time and child support be addressed as well. When the custodial parent becomes the non-custodial parent, he or she has the right to reasonable parenting time with the child unless the court finds that parenting time might endanger the child’s physical health or emotional development. Absent a finding of endangerment, a parenting time order will need to be entered for the new non-custodial parent. A change of physical custody also generally changes which party is paying child support. In these cases, child support worksheets will have to be completed and a child support order issued for the new non-custodial parent to pay the new custodial parent.
When filing a petition for modification, whether the main issue is custody, parenting time, or support, petitions for all other possibly affected issues should also be filed. This will help ensure that the court will address all matters that may need to be addressed as a result of any modification.
Child custody, support, and parenting time are governed by different statutes, but intertwined in a way that may necessitate a modification of one when another is modified. If you are involved in a modification case, the experienced attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. can help sort out the issues and resolve your case in a way that is best for you. This blog was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. It is for general educational purposes. It is not intended to be relied upon for any legal matter or issue. The blog is not legal advice. This is an advertisement.