How is Child Support Calculated?

For both married and unmarried parents, calculating child support in Indiana requires application of the Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines (the “Child Support Guidelines”). In this article, Carmel attorney Joshua R. Hains answers some frequently-asked questions about the Child Support Guidelines:

How are parents’ incomes calculated for purposes of establishing child support?

In Indiana, child support calculations are based in large part on the parents’ respective weekly gross incomes. A parent’s “weekly gross income” includes:

  • Salary
  • Wages
  • Commissions
  • Bonuses
  • Overtime
  • Severance pay
  • Pensions
  • Interest
  • Business and investment income
  • Workers’ compensation benefits
  • Unemployment insurance benefits
  • Social Security benefits
  • Spousal maintenance
  • All other sources of income (with certain, narrowly-limited exceptions)

Weekly gross income can also include potential income if a parent is unemployed or underemployed (e.g., if a parent takes a low-paying job in an effort to avoid paying child support). Potential income calculations are based on “employment potential and probable earnings level based on . . . work history, occupational qualifications, prevailing job opportunities, and earnings levels in the community.”

How can I be sure my spouse or partner has disclosed all of his or her income?

Under the Child Support Guidelines, both parents are required to complete a worksheet and submit income statements along with documentation of all sources of income. Forensic accounting methods can be used when necessary, and parents can face court penalties for failing to disclose all required information.

What is the “basic child support obligation”?

The “basic child support obligation” is the amount required to cover the child’s (or children’s) living expenses and daily needs. Health insurance premiums paid only for the child (or children) should be added to the basic support obligation; and, if one or both parents incur childcare expenses for employment or job searching purposes, these expenses will factor into the basic support calculation as well.

Once the parents’ respective incomes and the basic child support obligation have been calculated, each parent’s percentage share of total income is multiplied by the total child support obligation to determine his or her ongoing share of child-related expenses.

What other expenses can factor into child support calculations in Indiana?

Certain “extraordinary” health care and education expenses can increase parents’ child support obligations in Indiana. These include uninsured medical expenses in excess of six percent of the basic obligation, and “reasonable and necessary” expenses for private schooling, vocational training and higher learning. It is in the courts’ discretion whether to award child support for college expenses, taking into consideration, “each parent’s income, earning ability, financial assets and liabilities.”

How long do parents pay child support in Indiana?

As a general rule, parents’ child support obligations end at age 19 – the age of emancipation in Indiana. However, this does not apply to college expenses, and there are a variety of circumstances under which children can become emancipated prior to age 19.

Speak with Carmel Child Support Attorney Joshua R. Hains

If you have more questions about calculating child support in Indiana, contact Hains Law, LLC for a free and confidential consultation. To schedule an appointment with attorney Joshua R. Hains, please call (317) 588-2883 or submit our online request form today.


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