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General Information

There are usually three parties in a child support case.  The first is the child(ren).  Second, is the custodial party.  This is the person who lives with the child and has primary day-to-day responsibility for the care and control of the child.  The third is the non-custodial parent.  Although the non-custodial parent is often the child's father, the child's mother can also be the non-custodial parent.  When a child is in the custody of another family member or in foster care, there may be 2 non-custodial parents.  Regardless of their living arrangement or relationship, both of the child's parents should provide the financial support that their child needs.

Services through the Child Support Program can help establish paternity(if necessary) and to obtain child support.  The Child Support Bureau has entered into cooperative agreements with county prosecutors in every Indiana county to provide child support enforcement services.  If you are seeking assistance with child support, contact your local county prosecutor's office.  The following link will help you locate the prosecutor's office in your area.  Local Child Support Offices

Child Support Orders

Child support orders are legal obligations to provide financial support for a child, and are established by a court of law.  All child support obligations in Indiana are governed by the Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines issued by the Indiana Supreme Court.  The guidelines employ a methodology designed to calculate child support as a share of each parent's income estimated to have been spent on the child if the parents and child were living in an intact household.  For the non-custodial parent, the calculated amount establishes the amount of child support to be paid to the custodial party for the benefit of the child(ren).  The amount calculated for the custodial party is presumed to be spent directly on the child.  The Guidelines also address special considerations for extraordinary education expenses and parenting time.

Emancipation of Child Support

Generally, when a child turns 19 years old, the child is emancipated by operation of law, and the non-custodial parent's obligation to pay current support terminates.  The following exceptions permit the court to order that child support continue beyond the child’s 19th birthday.  For child support to continue, a court order recognizing the exception is required prior to the child’s emancipation in either case where:

*    The child is incapacitated; or
*    The child is a full-time high school student.

Prior to turning 19 years old, judicial action (a court order) is required to terminate support.  The court shall emancipate a child prior to the age of 19 years if the court finds that the child:

*    Marries; or 
*    Goes on active duty status with the U.S. Military; or 
*    The child is not under the care or control of either parent or an individual or agency approved by the court

The court may terminate a non-custodial parent's support obligation, with or without emancipating the child, if the court finds all of the following circumstances exist:

*    The child is at least 18 years of age; and 
*    The child has not attended a secondary school or postsecondary educational institution for the prior four months; and 
*    Is not enrolled in a secondary school or post-secondary educational institution; and 
*    The child is, or is capable of, supporting himself or herself through employment

In order for a court to terminate a child support order prior to 19 years old, a petition must be filed with the court.  If a non-custodial parent owes any arrearage at the point when the order for child support terminates, he or she will still be required to pay the arrearage.

If 2 or more children are covered by a child support order and one child is emancipated, the amount of the child support order is NOT automatically reduced.  The parties must seek a modification of the court order to determine the new amount of support for the remaining child (ren).

How child support obligations are enforced

Below is a list of some of the enforcement tools that may be used for child support enforcement when child support cases become delinquent:

  • Intercepting federal and state income tax refunds, lottery winnings, employer bonus payments and insurance settlements
  • Reporting of unpaid support to a credit bureau
  • Suspending driver's and professional licenses as well as hunting and fishing licenses
  • Applying vehicle liens
  • Locating and withholding bank assets
  • Denying/revoking passports

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