Friday, May 16, 2014

Public Recommendations Presented Today on Amending the Indiana Child Support Guidelines

2015 Indiana Child Support Guidelines
review scheduled for public comment

Members of the public appeared in the chambers of the Indiana Supreme Court today to give comment to the Domestic Relations Committee of the Indiana Judicial Conference for the members consideration in amending the Indiana Child Support Guidelines.

About a dozen speakers appeared and testified before the committee. Numerous speakers talked about the issue of child support payments being used as means of income for custodial parents rather than going to the children. The speakers recommended using accounting of how child support payments are spent to prevent this abuse.

There were also numerous requests that the DRC use a different methodology to determine the parenting time credit other than overnights. I am feeling confident that there will be some changes to the commentary within the rules to guide judicial officers to consider actual expenses incurred, if any, for an overnight before applying a credit. Particularly, the Sunday overnight has been a source of great contention. As I mentioned in my testimony I have worked with mediating agreements where a custodial parent would agree to a child being returned as late as 9:00pm on Sunday evening but no overnight. The child ends up traveling past the school on Sunday evening and then riding a bus back at 6:30 in the morning. What is the cost in letting that child sleep at the custodial parents' house – almost nothing. The child ate at the NCP's house, slept at the CP's house, then got to school and ate a free breakfast and free lunch. What was lost by the child not being at the NCP's house overnight is the opportunity for the NCP to foster a relationship with the school every other Monday morning. The child could have had less travel time [along with subsequent risk of injury], and less disruption in his or her life.

I spoke with a few of the speakers following the meeting and will be getting more information from them about their observations and recommendations. The testimony of the session may be viewed here. Of particular note are the mother, Michelle Williams, who begins at 14:45 discussing the “home business known as child support” and then yours truly at 36:15.

Judge Lynn Murray who chairs the committee was gracious enough to allow speakers an opportunity for additional time to expand their testimony following the initial five minute presentations of all speakers. I spoke briefly near the end about parents using parenting time to effect child support payments. Written comments may be submitted until 27 May 2014.

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