"Deadbeat Dad" laws pertain to fathers who shirk their obligations to pay child support, but Indiana's laws regarding enforcement of overdue support apply equally to men and women. Understanding these laws can help custodial parents who want to collect past due support and might possibly help prevent noncustodial parents from falling behind with their payments.
Child Support Obligations
Both parents are responsible for economically providing for their children in Indiana. The state's legislature bases its child support laws on the idea that children should receive the same proportion of parental income after a divorce as they would have if their parents had remained together. The amount of child support is determined by:
- Adding together the parents' gross incomes and determining each parent's share of the total income.
- Comparing the total with the Indiana Child Support Guidelines to determine the total cost of supporting the child.
- Adding the weekly cost of health insurance premiums and work-related child care expenses to the total cost of support.
- Prorating the child support obligation between the parents based on their proportionate share of the weekly adjusted income.
Opening a Case
A custodial parent can open a child support case by contacting the Department of Child Services Child Support Bureau and filling out an application. A case might automatically be referred to this agency if the custodial parent or child is receiving public assistance such as Temporary Assistance for Needy Families or Medicaid. The agency represents the child's best interests, not those of the custodial or noncustodial parent.
The Indiana Department of Child Services has a number of enforcement options available.
The Department can petition the court to hold a parent in contempt of court, possibly resulting in jail time of up to 180 days.
The Department does not have to go through all the usual steps that other creditors must in order to garnish a parent's wages. It sends an automatic income withholding order to an employer in all child support cases, even when there are no arrears. The employer then sends the appropriate amount of child support from the noncustodial parent's paycheck to the Department.
Non-payment of child support can result in suspension of an Indiana resident's driver's license or professional license.
Interception of Funds
If the noncustodial parent is expecting a lump-sum payment, such as lottery winnings or a tax refund, the Department can intercept these funds.
Another enforcement measure involves placing liens against a noncustodial parent's property. He can't legally sell the item without first paying off the ien.
Indiana publicly posts pictures and names of child support evaders on its Department of Child Services website.
The indiana laws have statutes of limitations. A custodial parent has up to 10 years after the child turns 18 or is emancipated to collect past due support in Indiana. If the custodial parent receives a judgment against the noncustodial parent, she has 20 years to collect.