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Family Law & Child Support FAQ.

Frequently Asked Questions About Custody, Parenting Time and Child Support.

Generally, the many of the same rules that apply for custody, parenting time, and child support in a dissolution also apply to paternity actions. Please feel free to call to discuss your particular situation.



Q: How is custody decided?

A: Custody is determined by the Court’s finding of what is in the best interests of the minor child. The Court makes this determination by analyzing a series of factors set forth by statute, including, but not limited to, the wishes of the parents, the inter-action and inter-relationship of the child with the child’s parents and siblings, the child’s adjustment to the child’s home, school, and community, and the mental and physical health of all parties.


Q: What is the deference between Sole and Joint Custody?

A: TThere are two basic forms of custody in Indiana: legal (sole) custody and joint custody. The term physical custody is also sometimes used, and refers to where the child(ren) are physically located at a particular time.

When a Parent has legal (sole) physical custody, that parent makes decision about the child’s health, education, and welfare, such as where the child will attend school, medical treatment, religious up bringing, extr-circular activities and the like. When parents share joint custody, these types of decisions are jointly made by the parents. In joint custody situations, one parent is typically named as having primary physical custody, with the other parent being awarded parenting time pursuant to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines.


Q: If both parents equally share physical custody does either pay child support?

A: When child(ren) spend equal amounts of time with each parent, it may be possible that neither parent will be required to pay support to the other. Whether a party pays child support will be based on the Indiana Child Support Guidelines, taking into consideration many factors, including, but not limited to, each parent’s gross weekly income, the cost of the child’s daycare, health care, and medical insurance costs.


Parenting Time.

Generally speaking, the term visitation is an older term that has been replaced with the term “parenting time.” The State of Indiana has adopted the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines which applies to both dissolution of marriage and paternity actions. It is recommended that any person who currently is, or anticipates, being in a child custody-parenting time situation read the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines, as the guidelines contain information and insight as to how parenting time is viewed.


Q: How is parenting time determined?

A: The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines are based upon the recognition that it is important for a child to spend time with both parents and the continuing of a parent-child relationship. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines provide parenting time based upon the age of the child. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines should be read for the parenting time that would be applicable to your particular situation.


Q: Who has the duty to pick-up and drop off for parenting time?

A: The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines provide that the non-custodial parent is to pick-up the child at the beginning of parenting time and the custodial parent (or the parent having primary physical custody in joint custody situations) is to pick-up the child at the end of parenting time. Under certain circumstances, the pick-up and drop off may be at different times and locations.


Q: Will the other parent and I be required to follow the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines in all cases?

A: The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines are guidelines and parents are allowed the flexibility to develop their own parenting time schedule, so long as it is in the child’s best interest. The time allowed in the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines is considered a “minimum time” concept and represents the minimum time that a non-custodial parent should spend with a child.” The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines, provides that both parents should exercise flexibility and reasonableness in parenting time matters.


Q: Will I be able to communicate with my child when he or she is not physically with me?

A: Generally, the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines allows parents to privately communicate without interference from the other parent. The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines also provides that each parent shall have reasonable telephone access at reasonable hours, duration, and intervals.


Child Support.

Q: Will I be required to pay child support pursuant to Indiana law?

A: If you are the non-custodial parent, you will likely be required to pay weekly child support. Generally speaking, under Indiana law, child support belongs to the child and not the parents. Further, under Indiana law, both parents have a duty to support their minor children.


Q: How will child support be calculated?

A: Child support is based upon the Indiana Child Support Guidelines. Child support is generally calculated on a weekly basis, taking into consideration the number of children, the parents’ weekly gross income, any subsequent born children, any child support obligations for prior born children, any maintenance obligations, work-related child care expenses, cost of health care insurance, and the number of overnights the child spends with each parent.


Q: If I am required to pay child support, will it be deducted from my paycheck?

A: If you are employed, the Court will normally issue an Income Withholding Order (IWO) to your employer. This IWO will require your employer to deduct the weekly child support amount, plus a weekly amount for any past child support arrearage, from your paycheck. Your employer will then send the amount deducted to the State of Indiana, who in turn, will forward the child support to the custodial parent. The employer will be allowed to deduct a nominal service charge for doing the deduction.


Q: Are college expenses taken into consideration when calculating child support?

A: The Indiana Child Support Guidelines provide for post-secondary education (i.e. college expenses) with a separate worksheet (PSEW). This PSEW takes into consideration the child’s tuition, room and board (if the child is not living at home), books, fees and other miscellaneous expenses. Likewise, the PSEW considers any scholarships, grants, student loans, and income of the child. It will also makes a difference if the child is residing on campus or at home. The child is typically required to maintain an acceptable grade level and attendance record to receive assistance with college.


Q: Can my child support payment be modified over time?

A: As child support may be ordered when a child is very young, it may be modified either upward or downward. Over the years, most parents’ income will change, as well as work-related child care expense, the cost of health insurance, and overnights with the child. Generally, a child support order may be modified upon a continuing and substantial change of circumstances as to make the current child support unreasonable. A child support order may also be modified if it has been more than one year since the order was entered and the child support obligation would change by more than twenty percent.

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