Sunday, April 19, 2009

Indiana's Child Support Guidelines Up For Review

Do not like the current Child Support Guidelines? Then pay attention - they are up for review this year: Review of Indiana's Child Support Guidelines.

"The Domestic Relations Committee of the Judicial Conference of Indiana has reviewed Indiana’s Child Support Rules and Guidelines and will propose changes to the Supreme Court of Indiana. The Committee is interested in receiving comments concerning revisions to these guidelines by May 13, 2009. Judge William C. Fee, Steuben Superior Court, chairs the committee."
The page has PDF files of the documents being changed and the proposals:

Reading Guide to the Child Support Guidelines Proposed Amendments, I see these changes as important but being of a benefit to all of us:
p. 7 This first sentence indicates the guideline schedules provide all child support amounts under the guidelines.

The $25.00 - $50.00 minimum child support order language was removed and the
guideline indicates the need for careful scrutiny when amounts are ordered at extremely low income levels. A consideration of a $12.00 minimum support order is included. In addition, the guideline indicates a child support order should always be entered, even if it is $0.00. Guideline 2



p. 7 Minimum support. Minimal income child support orders discussed – commentary language expanded for a parent with a high parenting time credit, mental illness, disabled child, an incarcerated parent, or natural disaster. A court should not automatically use minimum wage. Guideline 2, Commentary

p.7 If paternity was established and the parents live together with the child, a $0.00 may be entered as a deviation. Guideline 2, Commentary


p. 8 Income in Excess of the Guideline Schedule. There is no longer any amount of child support in excess of the guideline schedule, therefore this language has been removed. The child support guideline schedule provides for child support at all income levels. It also provides support levels for up to 8 children. Guideline 2, Commentary


p. 9 Definition of Weekly Gross Income. Added a specific reference to Social Security disability benefits paid for the benefit of the child to the definition of Weekly Gross Income. This would be included in the disabled parent’s income along with a credit. Guideline 3, A. 1.

p. 9 Clarified social security survivor benefit income of the child should not be attributed to a parent.

p. 9 Unemployed, Underemployed and Potential Income. Added language indicating a court must find a parent voluntarily unemployed or underemployed; guidance added for when use of minimum wage. Guideline 3, A. 3.

p. 9 Natural and Adopted Children Living in the Household. Revises language to permit an adjustment to income by the parent, if the parent is actually meeting or paying the support obligation for natural or legally adopted children subsequent to the existing support order, even if those children are not in the household. Guideline 3, A. 4.


p. 19 This change recognizes that application of the parenting time credit may result in child support being paid from a custodial to a noncustodial parent when there is a disparity in incomes. See Grant v. Hagar, 868 N.E.2d 801 (Ind. 2007).


pgs. This new section was added to give guidance to both custodial and noncustodial parents 21-22 on the distribution of disability and retirement social security benefits to a child. Language on treatment of the benefits for Title IV-D purposes is also included. In addition, this section addresses the distribution of a credit for the lump payment of retroactive social security disability benefits. Brown v. Brown, 849 N.E.2d 610 (Ind. 2006) addressed. Guideline 3. G. 5.

Now for the bad news, New Guideline 7 – Health Care / Medical Support
pgs. The new Guideline 7 is based on federal law which requires health care insurance for the 31-34 child when it is accessible at a reasonable cost. This new guideline incorporates almost all portions of health care expense discussion from Guideline 3.E. and 3.H. into one easy to use place for reference purposes. The treatment of the 6% uninsured health care expense component of basic child support obligation remains in this guideline.

Three new paragraphs based on a new federal medical child support requirements are included here. See Child Support Enforcement Program; Medical Support, 73 Fed. Reg. 140, 42416-42442 (July 21, 2008). These rules require child support guidelines address parental provision of health care needs through health insurance and/or cash medical support. Cash medical support is reasonable if it does not exceed 5% of the weekly gross income of the parent obligated to provide the child support. It must be calculated in
every case. A new worksheet is provided for a determination under this new guideline. The commentary to this guideline includes (1) information on the new requirement of health care insurance, (2) when courts may consider ordering either or both parents to provide health insurance for the child or children, (3) unchanged commentary about the 6% rule except for a new sentence about documentation and prorating these costs, and (4) new commentary on allocation of birth expenses. Guideline 7, and Commentary
The actual rule - as proposed - has this language which I think alleviates the problem I see with requiring health insurance:
Reasonable cost. The cost of health insurance for child(ren) is considered reasonable, if it does ot exceed five percent (5%) of the weekly gross income of the parent obligated to provide medical upport. The cost of health insurance for the children is not considered reasonable when it is combined with that party’s share of the total child support obligation (line 6 of the worksheet) and that sum exceeds ifty percent (50%) of the gross income of the parent responsible for providing medical support.
I will post all of this proposed Rule tomorrow.

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