Generally, child support orders provide that one parent pays support and the other parent receives support. The custodial parent under the Indiana Child Support Guidelines who receives support is presumed to be using what is received in child support on behalf of and for the benefit of the child. However, the Guidelines allow for a court to do something different if the circumstances call for it.
For example, Bob is paying child support to Sally. Bob begins paying the school fees, school uniforms and cellular telephone expenses for the child by agreement of the parties. Bob and Sally can modify their support order to allow “in-kind payment” of support. This must be spelled out in the parties’ agreement as a deviation from the amount which would be calculated and due under the Guidelines. Rather than Bob pay for the school fees and have Sally reimburse him, why not avoid a situation where money must change hands back and forth? Addressing the child’s specific needs and expenses rather than the arbitrary number reached by the Guidelines will ensure that the child’s needs are met and minimizes parental conflict.
However, Bob and Sally must reach agreement and file it with the court if they intend to change their child support order. If Bob lowers his child support payment and does have a new court order which lists the new arrangement he made with Sally, he will have to prove that he made the non-conforming payments to the court or child support prosecutor.
Courts frown on parties making payments directly to the custodial parent or paying for expenses in lieu of child support, and these can be seen as gifts rather than the intended child support payments. Payor parents are recommended to either stick to the clear terms of their child support orders or to modify their orders if an alternate payment would be most beneficial to the child.