On January 1, 2024, the Indiana Child Support Guidelines amendment, which was released in October 2023, will go into effect. Some may say that amendments to the Guidelines are long overdue as the economic data on which the pre-2024 Guidelines are based is from 1972-73. Updated data and methodology have been utilized to amend the calculation. In addition, some of the specific terms of are changing. Here is a brief overview of the major changes:
- Parenting Time Credit
Pre-2024 versions of the Child Support Guidelines have not effectively dealt with the reality that not all children in a family necessarily follow the same parenting time schedule. In addition, some families have divided custody of children with Parent A having primary custody or one or more children while Parent B has primary custody of one or more different children. The 2024 amendments deal directly with these two situations and give instructions regarding how to accurately calculate the parenting time credit and resulting child support obligation for families in these situations. Families who have multiple children and multiple parenting time schedules for those children will calculate the parenting time credit for the noncustodial parent by running multiple Child Support Obligation Worksheets (one for each different schedule) and averaging the resulting parenting time credits. The resulting average will then be used to calculate the Child Support obligation. Families with split custody will run a worksheet for each parent’s home reflecting the appropriate income and parenting time credits. The smaller Child Support obligation will be subtracted from the greater and the parent with the greater obligation will pay the difference.
- Uninsured Health Care Costs
Uninsured health care costs are no longer part of the definition of “controlled expenses”. As a result, the recipient of child support no longer has to pay a portion of these expenses prior to division between the parents. Instead, all reasonable and medically necessary medical, dental, orthodontic, hospital, vision, pharmaceutical and psychological expenses for the children shall be divided between the parents based on their income percentages. So if Mother and Father both put their income in a pot, who put what percentage of the total into the pot? Those percentages will now be used to divide between parents every uninsured health care expense incurred by a child. The Guidelines set a new 30-day deadline to submit documentation of the expense to the other parent. Failure to timely share this documentation eliminates the obligation of the other parent to contribute to the cost.
- Birthing Expenses
The amended Guidelines make a big change to the allocation of expenses incurred by a Mother for prenatal care, delivery, hospitalization, other necessary and reasonable expenses associated with birth and post natal care. The pre-2024 Guidelines instructed that a Court in a paternity case “may” allocate some of these costs to Father. The amended Guidelines direct that courts “shall” allocate at least 50% of these expenses to Father. Courts can choose to allocate more than 50% to Father.
It is important to remember that an order which relies on the outgoing version of the Guidelines is not automatically changed because the Guidelines are changing. All child support modifications require a new court order. Give Wanzer Edwards a call to schedule a conversation with an attorney if you have questions.