Child support refers to payments made by the parent of a child to a legal custodian of the child to support the child’s upbringing. This is usually necessary when both parents no longer live together and the cost of raising the child is being borne by one person alone. Child support is designed to ensure that the child gets a decent quality of life even after the separation of both parents.
Child Support Process After Divorce
In Indiana, Child Support Services are available to parents of a child, as well as to relatives or caretakers with legal custody. Persons who wish to apply for child support can do so by completing and submitting the online application at https://dcswebapps.dcs.in.gov/IVDEnrollmentFormSite/Default. Physical applications can also be submitted, for details on physical applications, visit https://www.in.gov/dcs/enroll-for-child-support-services/.
The Child Support Program helps to locate the noncustodial parent so that they can be served a court notice. This process may take a while but is usually easier when the parent filing for child support has sufficient information on the other parent, like house address, employer’s details, etc. When the noncustodial parent is located and a child support case is opened, the Child Support Program determines the biological father of the child by establishing a paternity order. This requires that DNA testing be carried to confirm the actual father of the child. Paternity orders are necessary in cases where both parents are not married and/or the paternity of the child is disputed. DNA tests give results with up to 99% accuracy and are generally accepted as the standard.
Once paternity is confirmed, the court examines information such as the income of the parents, the number of children involved, the time spent with each parent (in cases of joint custody), etc. With this information, the court decides on a sensible amount of money to be paid as child support by the noncustodial parent and establishes a child support order. The court can also establish orders for medical support and healthcare insurance, especially if the child has peculiar medical needs.
Child support orders can also be modified if there has been a significant change in the income level of the noncustodial parent or the needs of the child from the time the initial support order was established.
How Do You Receive Child Support?
Custodial parties in a child support case may choose to receive their payments via direct deposits into their savings or checking account. Those who go for this option must fill a Direct Deposit Authorization Form which can be found at https://forms.in.gov/Download.aspx?id=6138 and attach all necessary documentation. Afterward, the account is verified and payments are made into that account.
Alternatively, child support recipients could opt for the Way2Go Mastercard. This is a debit card that is loaded with the child support benefits each month. The card can be used just like a regular Mastercard, and the payments received can be viewed online. This is a perfect choice for persons who wish to separate their child support benefits from personal income and expenses.
For additional information on options of receiving child support payments, visit https://www.in.gov/dcs/child-support/custodial-party-information/payment-disbursements/.
Maximum Amount Receivable as Child Support
The maximum amount of money that can be received as child support is not fixed, but rather varies depending on the income of the other parents. The amount is also affected by the existence of dependents who rely on the noncustodial parent. For parents who have no dependents and owe an arrearage of more than 12 weeks, up to 65% of their income may be withheld to settle the child support obligations.
In other cases, the court considers the income of both parents and then decides on a suitable amount that will be paid by the noncustodial parent. Parents can also access online child support calculators at https://www.in.gov/courts/services/child-support-calculator/ to get an estimate of how much may be paid in child support. The exact amount ordered may differ as the court may have other considerations taken into account which cannot be put into a formula.
Enforcement of Child Support
Parents who default on their child support payments may have an Income Withholding Order (IWO) sent to their employer. This is a court order instructing the parent’s employer to hold back part of their income each payment period until otherwise instructed. Parents who have an IWO may have as much as 65% of their income withheld to pay for child support arrears. Employers may also be asked to deduct child support obligations from lump-sum payments which the defaulting parent is entitled to. Details on this can be found at https://www.in.gov/dcs/child-support/employer-information/frequently-asked-questions/.
Other enforcement actions that may be taken include charging interest on delinquent accounts, withholding tax returns, intercepting lottery winnings, placing liens on the property (including real estate and vehicles) of the parent, suspension of driver’s license, initiation of contempt proceedings which may result in jail time. All these are intended to convince the parent to pay up their child support obligations.