During these unprecedented times of COVID 19 and the Stay at Home Order issued by Governor Holcomb, parents are finding themselves in family law situations that are new and often frustrating. This article is meant to offer insight into child support and parenting time laws during the COVID 19 pandemic. This article is not to be construed as legal advice and if you have specific questions, you should consult an attorney.
First and most important, parents need to determine how COVID 19 and the Stay at Home Order effects parenting time. If you do not have a copy of your current court order regarding parenting time, you can obtain a copy from the clerk’s office of the court in which your order was issued. The Indiana Supreme Court issued an Order which states all existing court orders regarding parenting time must remain in place during the COVID 19 pandemic and shall be followed unless the parties agree to other arrangements. There is no deviation from existing parenting time orders and parental rights unless agreed or modified by the court. If you have been denied parenting time, agreed to a modification or court-ordered to deviate, you also are entitled to make up parenting time for any parenting time missed. If there is no agreement and there is a need to modify or change your current parenting time schedule or a parent is being denied parenting time, a parent may file an emergency petition to either modify the existing order or enforce parenting time.
Indiana courts will not allow COVID 19 and the Stay at Home Order to be used by one parent as a tool to prohibit the other from seeing their child(ren). During this pandemic, it is more important for children to have normalcy and see each parent. It is also important for children to have facetime calls or video chats with their parents when the other parent is exercising parenting time to help cope with these uncertain times. The Governor’s Stay at Home Order considers travel for parenting time to be essential and you are allowed to do so. If you have questions or concerns, your lawyer or the court can help facilitate during this very difficult and uncertain time.
The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines can be found online: https://www.in.gov/judiciary/rules/parenting/#_Toc470860992.
The Indiana Supreme Court has also stated existing child support orders and payments will remain in place and be followed. However, if a parent loses their job, is furloughed and is unable to make a full payment or any payments as a result of COVID 19 pandemic, the parent may file an emergency petition to modify child support with the Court.
If it is necessary, based on your situation, to file for a temporary modification, the court will look at each set of circumstances to determine if a modification is appropriate. Please note, child support will be withheld from unemployment payments the paying parent may receive. If your circumstances have changed and child support needs to be paid directly by you during this time, you can make a child support payment at the clerk’s office if open, online at childsupportbillpay.com/Indiana or by phone at 1-866-972-9427. The payor needs to know their own social security number, the 10-digit child support case number and the payment amount. The payor will be charged a fee of 2.25% but will be able to use a credit card to make a payment online or by phone. Cash payments of child support may also be paid at MoneyGram locations such as Walmart, CVS, or Dollar Tree and will pay a fee of $4.99. To find a MoneyGram location use www.MoneyGram.com/locations.
Normally, “provisions of a child support order may be modified only if there is a substantial and continuing change of circumstances which makes the present order unreasonable or the amount of support ordered at least twelve (12) months earlier differs from the Guideline amount presently computed by more than twenty percent (20%).” The Indiana Child Support Rules are meant to provide parents information regarding the calculation of child support and rules pertaining to temporary support.
You can use this link to access the Indiana Child Support Guidelines: https://www.in.gov/judiciary/rules/child_support/index.html.
To help determine if there has been a 20% change, you can complete a child support calculation using the State’s online calculation tool:
Smith Legal Group wishes the best to all Indiana Families during these unprecedented times. Stay safe and please know, this too shall pass.