Articles Posted in Child Support

In 2016, there are many different ways of becoming a parent. Beyond the so-called “traditional method,” there is adoption, surrogacy, and in vitro fertilization. pregnantbaby

With the advancement of technology, the legal sphere has been slower to catch up, but there has been some precedent set to settle disputes that arise.

The recent case of Sieglein v. Schmidt dealt with one such example, recently weighed in on by the Maryland Court of Appeals. The case had to do with establishing paternity when a woman who was married to a man who’d had a vasectomy became pregnant via in vitro fertilization (IVF). This is a type of assisted reproductive technology that involves manually combining the sperm and egg in a laboratory dish and then implanting that embryo into the uterus.  Continue reading

monopolyWhen family courts are weighing how much a parent should pay in child support, they doesn’t simply look at each party’s pay stubs. Typically, the courts conduct a detailed analysis that includes consideration of:

  • Salaries and wages
  • Income from overtime and second jobs
  • Investment and interest income
  • Pension income
  • Trust or estate income
  • Annuities
  • Capital gains
  • Social Security benefits
  • Veterans’ benefits
  • Military personnel fringe benefits
  • National Reserve and drill pay
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Unemployment
  • Disability insurance benefits
  • Prizes and gifts (including gambling and lottery winnings)
  • Income of a new spouse
  • Alimony received from another
  • Real estate income

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When it comes to child support calculations in Indiana, state courts are given guidelines by which to adhere. These guidelines take into account a host of factors, ranging from employment, wages, computations for prior-born or subsequent-born children, costs for child health insurance and child health care, education expenses and other factors.
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But Ind. Child Supp. G. 3(F)(2) is clear: If the trial court finds support provided under the guidelines isn’t reasonable, just or appropriate, the court can deviate from those guidelines and administer an amount deemed more appropriate.

In the recent Indiana Supreme Court case of Bogner v. Bogner, the court once again underscored this point, with the justices noting the guidelines are not to be taken as “immutable, black letter law.” Rather, there are some circumstances in which flexibility is required.

In this Indiana child support case, father and mother divorced in 2007, and at that time, shared a 2-year-old child together. The court originally ordered father to pay $162 weekly. The following year, father petitioned court for a modification of payments. At that time, it was agreed he would pay $135 a week. During this time, mother and father alternated years under which they could claim the child as a dependent on tax returns.
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Indiana law allows parents to seek modification of child support such that the other parent be responsible to pay a portion of the child’s post-secondary education expenses, even though the child is no longer legally a minor.
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In the case of Ball State University v. Irons, before the Indiana Supreme Court, a mother was understandably compelled to act when the university in which her daughter had previously been enrolled refused to provide transcripts to her new school, Indian University Northwest – after the school refused to allow her to enroll without them. Ball State said it had the authority to withhold the transcripts until payment of a debt obligation had been fulfilled. The bill was supposed to be paid by the father under an earlier approved modification of child support.

The mother was pursuing legal action against the father to compel him to pay this outstanding bill, and requested to add Ball State University as a supplemental defendant so that she could demand the transcripts be turned over to the new school. She asserted this action was necessary because otherwise, she would not be able to obtain complete relief in her action against the father. She was seeking unpaid fees to the first university, but also payment of future college expenses. However, she’d be unable to state future college expenses if her daughter wasn’t enrolled – which she couldn’t do without transcripts being held by the first school for non-payment.
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If ever a father questions the paternity of a child, it may be best to address those suspicions early on.
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Failure to do may result in a situation similar to what plaintiff in Stacy M. v. Jason M. faced in a family law dispute before the Nebraska Supreme Court.

In that case, a father suspected his youngest son with his wife was not his biological child, but did not raise the issue in subsequent divorce proceedings. Years later, he completed genetic testing that proved his suspicions, and sought to have the child support terminated. However, he did not wish to severe the relationship with the child. The court essentially determined there would be no legal way to accomplish such a request.
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Changes in Indiana child support payments are only going to be made in circumstances where the court has held there has been a substantial change in condition and it’s in the best interest of the child or children involved.
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Deviation from the Indiana Child Support Guidelines also generally isn’t done without good cause. Of course, there are always exceptions. Whether you’re the one requesting the change or trying to fight it off, an experienced family law attorney can help.

The recent case of Bogner v. Bogner before the Court of Appeals of Indiana reveals how one such battle played out.
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Most parents want to ensure their children have the best possible chance of success as an independent adult, and that means having a solid education. However, there are many varying schools of thought about what a good education looks like – and how much it costs. so.jpg

In matters of divorce, disputes about education (specifically the funding) can become especially heated. The cost of private school can be as much annually as college tuition. And while most parents aren’t legally obligated to pay for either private school or college tuition for their children, that could change in the midst of a divorce.

Increasingly, family courts are allowing for the enforcement of “reasonable” educational costs when one parent argues for it. The decision is typically based on both parents’ income, the kind of education the child was receiving prior to the split and whether there is already a fund established.
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While child support guidelines in Indiana were modified nearly five years ago in order to promote fairness in family law proceedings, many parents still find themselves battling a system that is either forcing them to pay more than they can reasonably afford or isn’t making the non-custodial parent pay what is necessary to provide for the child.
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Our Gary child support lawyers know that family court judges have a fine line to walk in terms of balancing these interests. But making decisions in the best interest of the child is always the primary goal. So when mistakes are made, challenges must be mounted.

The case of Shae v. Shae, weighed recently by the North Dakota Supreme Court, provides an example of how the courts occasionally get it wrong the first time around, and why it can be beneficial to challenge such orders.
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Non-custodial parents across the U.S. owe more than $100 billion in back child support, according to a report recently released by the federal Office of Child Support Administration. divorce.jpg

Our Highland child support lawyers understand that some $2.3 billion of that can be traced back to the Hoosier state, with 95 percent of the cases involving dads who aren’t paying.

For those who are owed child support, it’s important to know that hiring an attorney to help with the process can be beneficial for several reasons.

An attorney can file for many of the same actions against a deadbeat parent that government agencies do, including garnishment of wages, requesting license suspensions, filing for property liens and requesting a contempt of court order. However, the difference is that an attorney can help you bypass some of the red tape that is involved when you attempt to navigate the process on your own through the Indiana Department of Child Services and Child Support Bureau.

It’s particularly important in light of a new investigative report by ABC-6 in Indianapolis. Reporter Kara Kenney learned that state and local agencies spent more than $83 million during the most recent fiscal year to enforce and collect child support payments. These are agencies, like the civil divisions of sheriff’s departments, that are already cash-strapped and operating on limited resources.

In a single day when Kenney road along with a sheriff’s department team from Marion County, deputies were grappling with a stack of $263,000 in unpaid child support.

The state has set up a website to help track down the “Most Wanted Child Support Evaders.” Of the 18 listed, the payments range anywhere from $10,000 to $157,000.

One of the problems is actually getting the support order. It’s not a difficult process per se, but the issue is getting both parents there.Typically, all that is required is a paternity test and a brief analysis of the non-custodial parent’s income sources. From there, a formula is applied to determine how much the individual owes per child.

The bigger hurdle is enforcement. ABC-6 reported that the state of Indiana has fallen to 41st in the country in child support enforcement.

Plus, as the Marion County chief deputy prosecutor was quoted as saying, the courts are filled to the brim with cases, so there is a considerable amount of lag time as it relates to the backlog. In just that county, for example, the system handles more than 70,000 cases with about 80 full-time employees. That breaks down to about 875 cases per employee.

Several caseworkers are managing loads of several hundred each.

A number of custodial parents worry about the ability to afford an attorney to help fight their case when they’re fighting to make ends meet. But for many parents, they can’t afford not to. Relying solely on the state could mean you might wait months or years to see progress on your case. We are committed to producing results for you as quickly as possible.
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A new report released by the non-profit group Child Aware of America indicates that cost for child care now exceeds rent payments in most states in the country. swing.jpg

In Indiana, which is ranked as having the 10th highest child care rates in the country, parents are typically paying about 13.5 percent of their income on child care. This was only slightly behind the state with the No. 1 highest child care rates – New York, where families paid about 15.9 percent of their salaries for it.

Indiana child support lawyers
know that this is difficult enough for two-parent households. It’s nearly impossible when a single parent is treading water, trying to stay afloat on the bills.

For many parents, the issue of support – or rather, refusing to collect it when they could – is a source of pride. It sends a message to the non-involved parent that, “I can do it without you.”

It’s a sentiment that, given the rising cost of so many goods and services, few single parents can afford. Many are finding that they now have no choice but to petition the court for a support order just to make ends meet.

Other single parents may have support orders in place that are not being honored by the non-custodial parent. In these cases, custodial parents can petition the court, with the help of their attorney, for some form of relief from the court. Judges have the authority to order a variety of relief measures, such as wage garnishment, liens or revocation of driving privileges.

To put into perspective what many single parents are dealing with, consider some of the figures from Child Care Aware’s new research:

  • The yearly cost for infant care rose by about 2 percent last year – in some cases, by as much as $15,000;
  • The yearly cost to care for a 4-year-old spiked by more than 4 percent – in some cases by as much as $11,700.
  • In half of all states, the cost of child care for one child exceeded the annual median rent payments;
  • When the cost for two children were considered, it exceeded rent in all 50 states;
  • In 35 states, the cost for full-time infant care exceeded the cost of in-state tuition and college fees at a four-year university.

Then you factor in a host of other upwardly-spiraling costs, such as a 30-cent spike in gasoline prices and grocery bills that have shot up more than 10 percent in the last month, and it becomes clear the family budget is under pressure from all sides.

A report that was released earlier this summer by a separate non-profit indicated that the cost to raise a child will be $8,000 more for a child born in 2011 than for a child born in 2010.

All this, and we haven’t even talked about the current job market.

The bottom line is this: There is no shame in seeking support for your child – support to which he or she is rightfully entitled.

But you shouldn’t go it alone. We can help.
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