November 06, 2023

Indiana Amends Child Support Guidelines

On October 17, 2023, the Indiana Supreme Court entered an order amending the Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines (“Guidelines”), effective January 1, 2024. Notable amendments to the Guidelines include:

  • The income shares model in prior iterations of the Guidelines resulted from economic data from the 1972 and 1973 Consumer Expenditure Survey and research by Thomas J. Espenshade, with the payment schedules developed under the Engel methodology. The Engel methodology is based on estimates of how household spending on food as a percent of total spending varies with the number of children and total household expenditures. With the new amendments, the Rothbarth methodology is applied using 2013 to 2019 Consumer Expenditure Survey data to update the payment schedules. The Rothbarth methodology is based on the assumption that the amount of spending on children can be inferred by examining how parents reduce their personal expenditures as the number of children in the family increases. A focus on overall spending rather than emphasis on food expenditures is viewed as a more accurate reflection of direct estimates of child spending levels. The result of this change is to increase the amounts of weekly child support payments across most combined weekly income levels, ranging from 4% to 22% in selected income brackets.
  • Specific deviation language must be included in agreements and orders, in addition to submitting Child Support Obligation Worksheets.
  • The former “6% Rule” (requiring the child support recipient to pay a certain amount of uninsured health care expenses annually before pro rata allocation) is eliminated, as it was based on an out-of-date model that estimated uninsured health care expenses to be 6% of the basic child support obligation.
  • Suggested revised language for defining uninsured health care expenses is provided.
  • Courts may consider the reasonableness of use of out-of-network providers and exercise discretion to disallow claims for contribution for failure to obtain preapproval for particular procedures or health care providers.
  • Contributions to or reimbursements for health care expenses should occur within 30 days of documentation of payment and insurance claims, or date of service where payment is made.
  • Courts are to order the parent providing the children’s health insurance to show proof of coverage and provide the other parent cards, claims forms, website addresses and any other materials to permit insurance claims to be filed with the insurance carrier.
  • Fathers must be ordered to pay at least 50% of postpartum, postnatal, and other necessary and reasonable expenses of a child’s birth.
  • Ordinary uninsured health care expenses are no longer “controlled expenses.”
  • Court orders should indicate who pays uninsured heath care expenses.
  • A specific methodology for calculating the child support parenting-time credit for families that have children with different parenting-time schedules.
  • A methodology, with multiple Child Support Obligation Worksheets, for calculating child support for families with split or divided custody is suggested.
  • New Child Support Obligation Worksheet formats are being developed.

These changes to the Guidelines will simplify and clarify several areas of frequent dispute, and reshape child support payments to better conform to more recent economic data.

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