The law states that each child has the right to be supported by both of their biological parents. In other words: It is the child who has the right to the support, not the parent. This is an important distinction and one that parents frequently misunderstand. Child support is meant to be used to ensure that every child is adequately clothed and fed, and lives in a proper home.

Child Support Guidelines

Child support is calculated based on your net monthly income, with certain deductions allowed. The number of overnights each of you spends with your child determines what percentage of each of your income is to be allotted to your child’s care. If the court diverges from these guidelines, a written explanation for that departure is required.

Tax Consequences of Child Support

Under the IRS code, child support is not deductible from the payor’s gross income, nor is it included in the recipient’s gross income. Because child support is for the child, not the ex-spouse, the IRS puts the tax burden on the parent providing the money for the child.

Non-Payment of Child Support

Every state takes the payment of child support very seriously, and Indiana is no exception. Non-payment – or even late payments – can result in garnished wages and possibly imprisonment. This is true even if one of the parents, or the child, no longer lives in Indiana, as long as Indiana courts still have jurisdiction over the payments.

Child support is usually required until the child turns eighteen or graduates from high school. Indiana does not require a parent to continue to support a child as they go through college.

However, child support must be terminated by an order of the court. Neither you or your ex-spouse should simply stop making payments when a child graduates or turns nineteen. In order to avoid being found in contempt of the court, a motion should be filed with the court, formally requesting termination.

If you owe back support, you should consult an attorney before the court demands your presence to explain your lack of payment. Failure to do so could result in heavy fines and possibly your arrest.

(See also Support Collection.)

Changes to Child Support

If you believe you are not receiving enough child support (or that you are paying too much), you should consult a qualified attorney to help you file for a modification of the support order. Any kind of change in support requires filing a motion with the court. You cannot legally decide for yourself – or even with your ex-spouse’s consent – to make changes in support payments. The best way to protect yourself is to consult with an attorney.

(See also Modification of Orders.)

Financial Awareness

Our Divorce Budget Worksheet is a helpful starting point for looking at your finances so you have a clear idea of what you can afford after your divorce.

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