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Child support and weekly gross income

Getting divorced can be emotionally devastating, but the financial realities of marriage dissolutions can also take a toll. This can be especially true when children are involved. Why? Because noncustodial parents are often ordered to pay child support to custodial parents in an attempt to help fairly balance the costs of raising a child. Yet, this issue can lead to heated disputes, primarily because a child support obligation can be based on a number of ever-changing factors.

One of these factors is weekly gross income. This income must be disclosed by both parents when child support is sought, and it is one of the primary factors used by a judge to determine a support obligation. Of course, weekly gross income includes an individual's actual weekly salary or wage, but it also includes bonuses, commissions, pensions, severance pay, dividends, workers' compensation, Social Security benefits, inheritances, gifts and alimony. These types of income can vary greatly from time-to-time, and may skew the reality of a parents' financial situation.

Additionally, a family law court has the ability to order child support based on potential income if the court determines that a parent is either voluntarily unemployed or underemployed. To determine this potential income, the court will assess the individual's work experience, job qualifications, available jobs, and the expected salary in those jobs.

Regardless of which side you are on, custodial or non-custodial, you, as a parent, owe it to your child to ensure that child support matters are settled properly. For a custodial parent, this means pursuing a child support amount that is fair. For a non-custodial parent, it mean meeting support obligations, but can also mean notifying the court when a change in circumstances makes paying a child support obligation difficult or impossible.

Indiana courts do not tolerate non-payment of child support, even if a non-custodial parent is facing hardship, unless the matter has been addressed by the court. Therefore, those facing issues with child support should consider whether they want legal assistance to help them protect not only their best interests, but also those of their children.

Source: State of Indiana, "Child Support Rules and Guidelines," accessed on March 27, 2017

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