Do the Courts Favor Mothers in Indiana Child Support Cases?

Relentless Family Law Attorneys Safeguarding the Rights of Mothers and Their Children

No, the courts will not favor the mother in any family law decisions. Indiana courts must make decisions without gender bias. The primary consideration of Judges in child support cases should be the best interests of the children involved.

Before determining what a child support order should look like, it is first necessary to establish a parenting plan. Some form of joint custody arrangement is usually established that prioritizes stability in the child’s life. Often, one parent becomes the custodial parent with whom the child lives most of the time, while the other parent, the non-custodial parent, is granted visitation rights.

The non-custodial parent is usually required to pay child support to the other to make the costs of upbringing more equal. Both parents are required to provide for their children, both financially and emotionally.

Family law issues such as child support and custody are incredibly difficult for parents and their children. It is essential that you have dedicated support from an attorney who can fight to protect your rights and ensure that a decision is reached that meets the needs of your family.

Indiana Family Attorneys at Woodford Sathappan McGee

Woodford Sathappan McGee is a family law firm that exclusively represents women. We believe that our dedication to women’s needs and the needs of their children allows us to provide unparalleled support and guidance. We can help you with all child support issues, including establishing a new child support order, modifying an existing order, backdating payments, or securing missing payments.

Our family law attorneys are skilled mediators and will help you negotiate agreements where possible. However, we are equally experienced in the courtroom and will be ready to present your case in court if necessary.

We offer a free consultation to all women in Indiana, so contact us today and speak to an experienced child support lawyer at 380-212-3731.

Child Custody in Indiana

Before child support can be determined, a child custody arrangement must be established in Indiana. There are two forms of custody: legal and physical custody.

Legal custody is the right to make important decisions on your child’s behalf, such as where they go to school and what medical care they receive. Sole legal custody could be granted to one parent or a joint legal custody arrangement may be established, which will require parents to cooperate to make joint decisions.

Physical custody refers to parenting time. Most child custody cases result in some form of joint physical custody arrangement. However, it is also common for one parent to take on the majority of the parental responsibilities, especially if they have historically done so. If one parent has primary physical custody, then the other will usually be required to pay them child support.

A sole physical custody arrangement would only be granted if the other parent poses a risk to their child’s well-being, such as a history of abuse, neglect, substance misuse, or criminal history. Sole custody will not be granted easily, and if you believe that this should be ordered in your case, it is essential to speak to an attorney. Your attorney will help you file a protection order if necessary and will help you evidence your claims to a Judge.

Are Mothers Favored in Child Custody Decisions in Indiana?

No. Indiana courts must make decisions based on the best interests of the child, with no gender bias. When determining what is in the child’s best interests, the court may consider factors including:

  • Any potential risk of harm to the child from either parent.
  • The mental and physical health of both parents.
  • The ability of each parent to meet their child’s ongoing needs, both emotionally and physically.
  • The child’s preference, in certain circumstances.
  • Each parent’s wishes.
  • How involved each parent has been in their child’s life until this point.
  • The child’s access to their friends and community.
  • Fostering stability and continuity in the child’s life as much as possible.

How is Child Support Calculated in Indiana?

Child support is calculated based on state guidelines. The most important consideration is Weekly Gross Income, which will consider all forms of income, including wages, salaries, benefits, dividends, rental income, royalties, and imputed income, such as the use of a company car.

Weekly Gross Income will then be adjusted to consider the parent’s expenses, such as spousal support and child support to other children. Both parents’ adjusted weekly income will be considered when determining how much they owe. If one parent is not receiving any income or is making less money than they are capable of, the court could also consider their earning potential instead of what they are currently earning.

The Indiana Supreme Court provides an Indiana Child Support Calculator for parents, which you can find here. However, the website advises that this is designed to provide you with a rough idea of what a child support order could look like in your case and is not a substitute for seeking the help of a family law attorney.

Medical Care Obligations in Indiana

It is the responsibility of parents to make sure that their child’s medical needs are met. Parents must provide their child with medical insurance, provided it is available at a reasonable cost. The affordability of health insurance is determined by whether it costs 6% or less of the adjusted weekly gross income. If obtaining medical coverage is not feasible, parents must arrange for cash payments to cover the necessary medical care.

When Does Child Support End in Indiana?

In Indiana, a child support obligation is terminated when a child is “emancipated by operation of law,” meaning the child is no longer entitled to financial support from their parents.

Child support ends automatically when a child turns 19. It can also happen sooner if:

  • The child joins the US military on active duty.
  • The child is no longer under the supervision of a parent or a court-approved agency.
  • A parent may seek to end child support if the child is 18 years old or older, has not attended school for at least four months, is not currently enrolled in any educational program, and is capable of supporting themselves financially or is already doing so.

The child support obligation may also extend past the child’s 19th birthday. This could happen if an educational support request is filed before the child turns 19. If approved, child support will then continue until the child turns 21.

Child support may also continue indefinitely if the child has a mental or physical incapacity that prevents them from being self-sufficient.

Modifying an Existing Child Support Order in Indiana

Once a child support order is in place, it becomes legally binding, so its terms must be adhered to. However, parents can apply for a modification under specific circumstances. If both parents agree that the modification is warranted, then the process is relatively straightforward. However, a contested modification may need to be presented in court.

There are two justifications for modifying a child custody order. The first is that the amount that would be awarded under the current guidelines differs by 20% or more, and a minimum of three years have passed since the initial order was issued.

The next justification is a substantial and material change in circumstances. Examples include job loss, changing needs of the child, or a new child. However, it is important to understand that until a modification has been approved by a Judge, payments must be made in line with the existing order. Any payments that are missed will go into arrears and must be paid back.

If you need help modifying a child support order, we can help. Our law firm can help you negotiate an agreement with your child’s other parent or we can help you take your case to court and provide the evidence necessary to change your current order.

What to do About Missing Child Support Payments

If you are owed child support and the obligated parent refuses to pay, it is important that you speak to an experienced child support attorney.

At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we understand the importance of child support payments to meet your child’s needs. However, we also prioritize healthy family dynamics wherever possible. Therefore, the first thing we can do is help negotiate a payment plan that recovers what you are owed, without putting anyone in financial difficulty. This is often a quicker and cheaper resolution.

If the parent who owes child support refuses to cooperate, then we will help you take your case to court. The consequences of repeatedly missing child support payments can be very serious. The Judge could garnish their wages, revoke professional licenses, or seize assets. If the court finds them in contempt, they could receive large fines or even a jail sentence.

Regardless of the outcome, the Judge will strive to ensure that you are paid everything that you are owed. Child support payments have no statute of limitations, which means that they never disappear and may even accrue interest.

Do The Courts Favor Mothers in Indiana Child Support Cases? FAQ

No. It is important to keep in mind that parenting time and child support are two distinct legal matters. Denying visitation rights to the other parent could lead to you being found in contempt of court. If you are struggling with unpaid child support, then you should speak with a family law attorney who can help you take appropriate action.

If you are expecting a child, but are no longer in a relationship with the father, then the father is legally obligated to cover a minimum of 50% of all expenses related to the pregnancy. This includes prenatal care, delivery, and postnatal care.

Child support payments can be used for any expenses that are necessary for the child’s upbringing, such as housing, food, clothing, and toys. Additionally, child support may also cover educational expenses, including private school tuition. However, optional activities such as school trips or summer camps are typically not covered under child support agreements. Parents should try to discuss and agree on how these expenses will be covered.

Child support is frequently established as part of divorce proceedings. However, if the parents of a child were never married, it can be enforced as an independent court order.

Arrange a Free Consultation With an Experienced Child Support Lawyer in Indiana Today!

At Woodford Sathappan McGee, we take pride in offering exceptional support to women dealing with family law matters. We believe that every case should begin by empowering women with a thorough understanding of their rights. We will keep you well-informed and engaged at every stage, enabling you to make informed decisions that will affect your future.

With our extensive experience in negotiation and litigation, we possess the skills, resources, and knowledge required to guide you through any family law case, no matter how challenging. Our goal is for you to transition into a new life in confidence and security.

Schedule a free consultation with an experienced child support attorney by calling 380-212-3731.