Monday, May 5, 2014

Proposed Amendments to 2014 Indiana Child Support Guidelines

The Domestic Relations Committee[DRC] of the Indiana Judicial Center has scheduled a hearing for public input on amending the Indiana Child Support Guidelines[ICSG]. This hearing will be held on 16 May 2014 from 10:00a.m. until noon in the chambers of the Indiana Supreme Court. Public comment may also be submitted in writing. More details are available HERE.

I propose five specific amendments to the ICSG. Two of which I will briefly propound here and seek input from readers. First, it seems apparent that there is a “nanny factor” built into the support calculation. That is, as was in my case and many others, the ordered support amount clearly exceeds the actual costs of support for the child. Thus, there must be a portion of the support attributable to providing delivery of the support; Supervising, transporting, shopping, preparing meals, and so forth. In essence a nanny payment. I would personally be offended to receive such payments as I did not have a child out of love of money but, rather, for love of my child. In intact families these efforts can be undertaken by either parent or a service provider such as a nanny. The same opportunity should be available to dual residence families rather than the support paying parent being forced to “hire” the other parent to perform these duties when the paying parent is available to do so.

Therefore, I propose a two-tiered payment structure be considered. A rate for a parent who purchases and delivers groceries, takes the children shopping for clothing, and engages in the activities that make one a parent to the child not just a weekend play date for entertainment purposes. For the parent who abandons or rejects these responsibilities and dumps them on the custodial parent then a higher rate considerate of the custodial parents' “opportunity costs” is appropriate.

Second, I propose calculating actual expenditures for the child. As with any matters related to financial decisions different people exhibit different temperaments when it comes to earning, spending, and saving. These variances not only extend across cultures but populations within cultures. Some populations or individuals have such a predilection to consumerism that their spending exceeds their resources in either earnings or savings. In recent years this was evident through housing foreclosures and financial crises in places such as Greece. Thus, bankruptcy may be their escape. On the opposite end may be those who are morally opposed to consumerism who reuse, recycle, and re-purpose while enjoying substantial growth in their savings or charitable donations. While both could have identical incomes, the amounts apportioned to rearing their children could vary widely.

So whether future guidelines are based upon reporting data from parents, the collection of additional data prior to the setting of initial support orders I feel is essential to retaining or establishing confidence in the judiciary and the child support payment system. Regardless of whether any such “nanny factor” or parenting time and support presumptions are considered I do believe that we need to substantially expand the CSOW to collect more information. Parents are well aware of the costs of providing support to their children, much of which can be documented – housing, clothing, and medical insurance or care – through distinguishable payments.

Housing expense is easily calculated if a parent rents an apartment. If the parent has a bedroom for the child then the difference between the charge for a unit with one less bedroom and the actual unit being rented is the cost for the child plus a small percent of utilities.

The CSOW should be expanded to include more line items of actual expenses incurred on behalf of the child. By narrowing the range of discrepancy between a support order based upon actual costs and a support order based upon a guideline presumption parents should be more satisfied that the amount is just. Additionally, petitions for modification and subsequent hearings should decrease as parents who believe that the order is unjust would be less likely to be able to meet the statutory requirements for a modification.

Here are my previous postings about the 2014 amendments to the ICSG.

Public input sought for 2014 Indiana Child Support Guidelines amendments - May 16, 2014

Federal Statute Considerations for 2014 Indiana Child Support Guidelines Amendments

2014 Indiana Child Support Guidelines Amendments - Parenting Time Credit

2014 Indiana Child Support Guidelines Amendments - Insurance and Health Costs coverage

Update on amending the 2014 Indiana Child Support Guidelines

Indiana Child Support Guidelines to be Amended in 2014

Please send comments or suggestions about these proposals to me.

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