While child support in Indiana is based on weekly gross income, quitting your job is not a good way to reduce or avoid your child support payments. The Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines control child support determinations, orders, and possible violation of those orders when quitting your job or getting a new one. This blog explores the Guidelines and how they operate in various situations where a parent has become unemployed.
Indiana uses a mathematical formula called the “income shares model” in order to determine child support. This model bases child support payments on the amount the child’s parents would have available to provide support for the child if they were living together and pooling their resources.1 The income shares model calculates the proportions of each parent’s income based on the percentage of the total combined income earned by both parents and what the child would receive for support from each parent if living together.2
This may sound like quitting your job and earning zero percent of the total combined income would get you out of paying child support, however, that is not the case. Voluntary unemployment or underemployment may lead the court to impute income to you which you do not earn.3 Income is imputed based on potential earnings in the current market, considering your previous job history and qualifications.4 This may or may not decrease the amount of your child support payment. Either way, without a job, you are at risk for falling far enough behind in your support payments. Even if you file a child support modification petition, the court is unlikely to modify your child support. Thus, an arrearage will start accumulating and at some point, criminal charges may be filed against you for nonsupport of a dependent child, a level 6 felony.5
If you quit your job, the main things the court will look at in deciding whether to impute income to you are: if your unemployment is an attempt to avoid paying child support6 and if it is reasonably justified. While Indiana recognizes that child support orders cannot be used to “force parents to work to their full economic potential or make their career decisions based strictly upon the size of potential paychecks”7, it also discourages quitting a job or even taking a lower paying job in order to avoid higher child support payments or support payments altogether.8
There are justified reasons for quitting a job, which are recognized by Indiana’s courts. For example, your job being moved to another city or state that is too far away from your children for you to remain employed with your current company or childcare responsibilities that require a significant amount of time, such as when your child has special needs. However, proving to the court that you did not quit your job in order to avoid paying child support and that your unemployment is justified can be difficult. The attorneys at Ciyou & Associates, P.C. can help you make the best determination about how the court will see your unemployment if you have quit your job or may be considering quitting your job.
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.
- National Conference of State Legislatures, Child Support Guideline Models, (last accessed on December 11, 2022),
- Indiana Department of Child Services, Indiana Department of Child Services Title IV-D Policy Manual (February 28,2022),
- Ind. Child Support Guideline 3(A)(3)
- Child.Supp. G. 3(A)
- Ind. Code § 35-46-1-5
- “In re Paternity of Pickett , 186 N.E.3d 1186, 1191 (Ind. App. 2022)
- In re Buehler, 576 N.E.2d 1354, 1356 (Ind.Ct. App.1991)
- Roche v. Roche-Pearson, 173 N.E.3d 1058 (Ind. App. 2021)