Indiana Child Support & Overnight Calculations
Indiana uses overnights or where the children sleep as the basis for figuring shared custody timeshare percentages in its child support formula.
Besides income, overnight percentages are a key part of the Indiana child support formula. Your overnights directly affect your child support, whether you pay or receive.
Indiana attorneys and judges often rely on overnight estimates, even if they are incorrect, because counting overnights is tedious and time consuming. Divorcing parents often rely on these estimates as well.
Using estimates means your overnight totals are wrong when compared to your actual parenting time schedule. This means your child support amount will not be fair or exact.
To calculate overnights, the easiest and most accurate way is to use software. Without software, you're forced to count each night for a whole year, which is error-prone when you include alternating holidays, summer break, and any changes to the schedule throughout the year.
The leading overnight calculation software, Custody X Change, can calculate your overnights to see if they were estimated incorrectly.
Using software, you can also tweak your schedule to see how even little changes affect your total overnights, and you can see how your overnights change each year due to holidays and other events.
You can also track what actually happens, and show how many overnights you've actually received for any period of time. Historical information is a powerful tool when you request a child support modification or when you request more parenting time.
In any divorce, Indiana family courts award custody of the children to one or both parents. Custody is divided into legal custody and physical custody. A parenting time percentage is included in the child support formula for joint custody.
Indiana sole physical custody: The children reside with and are supervised by the residential parent, while the other parent is entitled to overnight visitations. In Indiana, sole physical custody is given to the parent with whom the children spend the most time with. Parenting time can be anywhere from 52 overnights to 182.
Indiana joint physical custody: Each parent has significant periods of physical custody, which allows them frequent and continuing contact with their children. Indiana statutory law defines joint custody as any arrangement in which the child has regular and continuing contact with both parents. Joint physical custody in Indiana means near equal parenting time—around 182 overnights per year.
Indiana family courts use a formula that considers both parents' incomes and the needs of the child to arrive at a monthly child support amount. The parenting time percentage adjustment only figures into sole physical custody cases.
Sole custody formula: To qualify for a parenting time adjustment credit, the non-residential parent must host the children for at least 52 overnights but no more than 182. The number of overnights translates to a child support credit for the non-residential parent.
Joint custody formula: Indiana family courts use a different formula to figure out child support for equal parenting time. It calculates the difference between the two incomes, allowing the children to enjoy the same standard of living in both households. The higher earner generally pays child support to the lower earner.
Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert earns $4,000 per month, while Mary earns $2,400 per month. They have two children.
See how the child support amounts change in these examples:
- Scenario #1: Robert, the non-residential parent, hosts the children for 52 overnights. This is the minimum required to qualify him for a parenting time credit, so he pays $760 per month in child support to Mary.
- Scenario #2: If Robert hosts two more weeks of overnights per year, to 66 nights, he pays $732 in child support to Mary.
- Scenario #3: If Robert adds two more weeks of overnights to total 80, he pays $708 in child support to Mary.
- Scenario #4: If Robert hosts the children for 94 overnights, he pays $652 in child support to Mary.
- Scenario #5: If Robert hosts the children for 108 overnights, he pays $576 in child support to Mary.
If Mary is the non-residential parent, she would qualify for a parenting time credit based on overnights, then pay child support to Robert. In Indiana, the non-residential parent pays child support to the residential parent, regardless of income.
Consider the hypothetical case of Robert and Mary. Robert earns $4,000 per month, while Mary earns $2,400 per month. They have two children
See how the child support amounts change in these examples:
- Scenario #1: If Robert and Mary agree to equal parenting time, approximately 182 overnights each per year, Robert pays $348 in child support to Mary. This is because his income is higher, and in Indiana, the higher earner pays the lower earner in joint custody cases.
- Scenario #2: If Robert and Mary both earn $4,000 per month, no child support is paid or received. This is because there is no net difference in their incomes.
- Scenario #3: If Mary earns $4,000 per month and Robert earns $2,400 per month, she pays $348 in child support to Robert. This is because she is now the higher earner.
Indiana's child support formula uses the following information to calculate your monthly amounts for shared custody child support:
- Overnights: Unlike some states, Indiana does not factor in daytime visitations into a child support formula—only overnights. However, overnights must include more than just providing children with a place to sleep. Overnights are included in the formula as a parenting time credit.
- Eligible children: Qualifying children in Indiana are those under 21. Disabled children who must remain with the residential parent may require child support past these limits.
- Gross earnings: Gross earnings are established based on tax records and current pay stubs. Indiana law requires the use of both parents' incomes from the equivalent of one full-time job to determine a child support amount.
- Specific deductions: There are some deductions allowed by Indiana family courts that allow an adjustment of the income, including health insurance premiums for the children, support for other children and child care expenses, for example.
Paying accurate child support helps your children in several ways, primarily because it ensures their financial needs are met.
Here are some other reasons why accurate overnight numbers help you, the other parent and your children:
- It provides a fair way to determine your child support amounts
- It guarantees the child support amount reflects each parent's responsibilities
- It allows for modifications if your actual time and scheduled time are different
- It is compliant with Indiana law
Your financial obligations to your children don't end with divorce, so whether you are paying or receiving child support, you owe it to your children to pay or receive the proper amount.
To ensure you are paying or receiving the right amount of child support in Indiana, remember these 5 things:
- The Indiana law regarding support can be found in the Indiana Child Support Guidelines. The purpose is to ensure that child support orders are sufficient to meet the needs of the children, relevant to the parent's ability to pay.
- Credit is awarded for the number of overnights each year that the children spend with the non-custodial parent in a sole custody case. This credit reduces the amount of child support paid.
- Indiana parenting time percentages only count overnight visits. Child visitation just during the day or into the evening does not affect total parenting time percentages.
- Indiana law is clear that merely providing a place for the children to sleep does not qualify as an overnight. An overnight should also include housing, clothing, feeding and supporting children in areas such as homework or extracurricular activities.
- Joint custody cases in Indiana usually result in the higher earning parent paying child support to the lower earning parent to ensure both households are financially even when it comes to caring for the children.
Use the Custody X Change software to accurately calculate the total overnights for the Indiana child support formula.