If you are filing for divorce in Indiana, there are a number of important considerations you will need to keep in mind—especially if you and your former spouse have a child together. In cases where a divorce does not end in mediation and proceeds to trial, the court will determine child custody arrangements and child support payments.
Courts determine child support based on a number of factors, such as income level. If the court assigns you to pay more child support than you can afford, you can experience serious financial hardship. It is important to understand what counts as income so you can provide the court an accurate picture of your finances.
How Do Judges Decide Child Support?
Child support refers to the payments made by the non-custodial parent after a divorce. The purpose of these payments is to help the custodial parent raise a child until he or she turns 19 or is otherwise emancipated. Child support can pay for a number of necessities essential to the child’s care, including food, shelter, transportation, and medical care.
When determining the amount of child support a non-custodial parent has to pay, Indiana courts will consider several important factors. These factors may include the following.
- The financial situation of each parents, such as gross weekly income
- The basic physical, mental, and educational needs of the child
- The standard of living the child would expect if the divorce had not occurred
What Counts As Income Toward Indiana Child Support?
Indiana courts use your gross weekly income to determine the amount of child support you need to pay. Gross income can include many sources of payment, including wages from employment, rent payments made out to you, Social Security benefits, and disability checks. The court may also consider two additional types of payments: imputed income and potential income.
- Imputed income refers to any benefits you receive that reduce your living expenses. This may include free housing as part of your employment, meal reimbursements, or a company car or gas card. The court may add or substitute any sources of imputed income when calculating your weekly gross income.
- Potential income arises if you do not have any income, but the court believes you are capable of earning an income. You may need to pay child support in this situation, even if you do not have a job.
After the courts determine your weekly gross income, it will deduct certain items to determine your weekly adjusted gross income. These adjustments include child support payments for prior children as well as subsequent children, and any alimony payments you make to your former spouse. The court will also factor in work-related childcare expenses and any health insurance premiums you need to pay.
The court will use this information to complete the Child Support Obligation Worksheet and calculate the support amount.
What Happens if You Cannot Pay Child Support?
Failure to pay child support may result in harsh penalties under Indiana law. A child support prosecutor can enforce the support order using several methods, including wage garnishment, tax refund seizures, liens, or passport revocations. If you intentionally evade child support, you could face contempt of court charges.
It is important for the court to accurately calculate your income so it can assign the correct amount of child support. To protect yourself and your financial interests during the divorce process, contact an Indiana divorce attorney as soon as possible. Your attorney will advise on which payments count toward your income and will advocate for your best interests during each stage of your divorce.