Friday, February 21, 2014

2014 Indiana Child Support Guidelines Amendments - Parenting Time Credit

21 February 2014

2015 Indiana Child Support Guidelines
review scheduled for public comment

The Domestic Relations Committee [DRC] of the Indiana Judicial Center met in regular session today to discuss the process of revising the Indiana Child Support Guidelines. Dr Betson appeared and presented to the DRC on the particular subject of the Parenting Time Credit.

Dr Betson first proposed a new way of classifying parents - Parent with Primary Residency [PPR] and Parent with Secondary Residency [PSR]. This is similar to what I proposed a few years ago as a way of mitigating the impact of the Non Custodial Parent label. I am pleased to see him do this as he suggested to the DRC the need to be sensitive to these labels. I will again be pushing for adoption of such new parenting distinctions.

Most of the discussion related to the manner in which Indiana calculates support and specifically the parenting time credit. Spending as anticipated by the ICSG is divided into three sections: 1] Transferred expenses which account for 35%. These are the expenses that follow the child such as providing food, travel to school or other activities, and the other incidentals that occur while a child is with a parent; 2] Duplicated expenses which account for 50%. These are the expenses that are assumed to be incurred by both parents and are additional to what an intact family would have. This would include any extra bedroom for the child, possibly a parent who normally used public transportation needing to get an automobile large enough to transport all children, and sometimes things such as clothing and toys which are currently considered controlled expenses; and 3] Fixed expenses which account for 15%. These are the expenses that include healthcare [the 6% rule], clothing, school book fees and the like.

Overall it is assumed by the ICSG that the cost of raising children in separate households is 150% the cost incurred by intact families. Indiana uses the income shares model and a graduated parenting time credit. The credit is applied to the transferred expenses [35% of total] which can result in up to a 17.5% credit if time is equally shared. The credit begins at 52 days and is very small, just over 1%, and only reaches 15% at 96 days. It rapidly increases from there. At 116 days the credit is 32% of the transferred expenses which is about 10% of total support calculation.[fn1] At 136 days the credit is 44% and then gradually gets to 50% at 183 overnights.

While there are transferred expense for overnight parenting time up to one night a week it has been a policy decision to not provide a credit for that. The purpose there is to induce the PSR to seek additional parenting time. It is also to keep the PRR from trying to restrict to no time. After all, the PRR will get the PSR to accept some of the financial responsibility while still paying 100% of the court ordered support amount. As previously shown when the overnights gets around 116 the credit increases rapidly. This has lead to resistance of the PPR from agreeing to a higher number of overnights with the PSR. This problem is exacerbated in New Jersey where the half of the transferred expenses kicks in at 35% of overnights. Thus PSR's will often seek no less than 35% and sometimes no more than 35% while the PPR offers no more than 34%. This bright line creates a credit or loss of 17.5% of support dependent on 4 nights one way or the other. Indiana spreads it out over 131 nights, the majority of it being across about 35 nights. Upon surveying judges in Indiana there is wide discrepancy among their experiences in which they find parents trying to manipulate parenting time to affect child support payment amounts. Overall across Indiana it is not a significant factor.

Dr Betson is suggesting, and I agree, that when parenting time is at or nearly equal that some of what are considered controlled expenses – clothing, large toys – that would not reasonably always flow with the child should be included in duplicated expenses.

In 2008 the Indiana Supreme Court in Young v Young [fn2] ruled that a parent who exercises daytime responsibilities such as providing meals, travel to activities and other expenses cannot receive overnights credit as a way of compensating for that until the DRC changes policy. However, as Judge Murray – Chair of the DRC -- did on remand, as Young did not preclude her, she receiving evidence of those costs and then deviating from the bottom end support calculation rather than adjusting the number of overnights. The DRC discussed the matter and they appear to be satisfied with adding language to the ICSG to instruct practitioners on accepting evidence of support that does not include overnights. The resulting effect should be that the negotiation of parenting time focusing on overnights as a means to produce adjustments to the child support payment order should be reduced.

The DRC would like to be ready to submit their proposal to the Indiana Supreme Court by 01 July 2015. They will take public testimony on 16 May 2014 at the Indiana Supreme Court chambers on level 3 of the Indiana State House at the north end. There will also be a link provided on the Indiana Supreme Court website in the near future for the public to submit written comment.

There are numerous new members on the DRC this year which I will address in a future posting. The next meeting is scheduled for 21 March 2014 where the topic that Dr. Betson will present is how the O'bama health tax will affect the ICSG.

[1] .32 x 35% = 11.2%
[2] Young, 891 N.E.2d 1045 (Ind. 2008)

* * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * * *

Make a suggestion for me to write about.

Parents who would like to achieve the best outcome for their children in a contested child custody case should visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me. Attorneys may request a free consultation to learn how I can maximize their advocacy for their clients.

Connect with me for the latest Indiana child custody related policy considerations, findings, court rulings and discussions.

View Stuart Showalter's profile on LinkedIn

Subscribe to my child custody updates

* indicates required
©2008, 2014 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

1 comment:

Steve Cedillos said...

Every family has some problems and issues especially between husbands and wives but when these small issues take a bigger shape then it becomes difficult for the family members to resolve the issue! Then the ultimate option is to hire a lawyer who can fight for justice in the court. In the cases of divorce the most difficult aspect is child custody. You can receive help with this sensitive issue by contacting the Law Office of Steve Cedillos in Hawaii who will handle your case with utmost care.