Q: I AM SURE THAT MY CHILD'S FATHER IS WILLING TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT. CAN WE MAKE AN AGREEMENT BETWEEN OURSELVES AND PRESENT IT TO THE COURT?
A: Yes. If the parents can cooperate and agree, all the better. The Court's sole interest in your agreement is to see that it is fair to all parties, that the welfare of the child is protected, and that the agreement conforms with the Indiana Child Support Guidelines.
Q: IF I AM NOT SATISFIED WITH THE CHILD SUPPORT DIVISION, WHAT LEGAL ALTERNATIVES DO I HAVE?
A: A person in need of legal services is encouraged to seek the aid of a private attorney. While the Child Support Division may be able to help you achieve your goal of child support collection, it must be remembered that the Child Support Division is not permitted to act as your attorney. Because of a limited staff and a staggering case load, the Child Support Division must cope with inevitable long delays. A private attorney can provide personalized services, particularly if he or she has experience in family law. Such attorneys can give as much time to a case as is necessary to do an effective job. The biggest drawback is expense. The attorney will charge for the time required for personal interviews, telephone calls, necessary legal research, court appearances and the preparation of pleadings. If the parent with custody of the children cannot afford an attorney, the other parent may be ordered to pay reasonable attorney fees and court costs if he or she has the means to do so. However, it is up to the judge to decide how much, if any, of the legal fees the other parent may be ordered to pay.
Q: DOES THE PROSECUTING ATTORNEY OR THE CHILD SUPPORT DIVISION ALSO DETERMINE CUSTODY OF THE CHILDREN AND VISITATION RIGHTS, OR SETTLE VISITATION DISPUTES?
A: No. You will need to seek the advice of an attorney regarding those issues.
Q: DOES THE PROSECUTING ATTORNEY OR THE CHILD SUPPORT DIVISION ALSO RESOLVE PROPERTY SETTLEMENT MATTERS?
A: No. You will need to seek the advice of an attorney regarding those issues.
Q: IS THERE A FEE FOR OPENING A CHILD SUPPORT CASE WITH THE CHILD SUPPORT DIVISION?
A: Yes. There is a $25.00 one-time filing fee. If the child/children are on Indiana Medicaid the fee is waived.
Q: ARE THE EARNINGS OF BOTH PARENTS CONSIDERED IN SETTING THE AMOUNT OF CHILD SUPPORT?
A: Yes. In Indiana, the Child Support Guidelines are used to calculate child support and take into consideration the income of both parents.
Q: I JUST HEARD THAT MY SON'S FATHER HAS HAD THREE PROMOTIONS IN THE LAST FOUR YEARS BUT THE CHILD SUPPORT IS STILL LIKE IT WAS SIX YEARS AGO. IS THERE SOME WAY TO FIND OUT WHEN HE HAS A RAISE?
A: Once a member of our program, either the custodial or non-custodial parent may request a review of the child support order.
Q: MY DAUGHTER'S FATHER SAYS THAT SINCE HE GIVES HER GIFTS AND MONEY HE DOES NOT HAVE TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT, IS THAT TRUE?
A: False. Indiana courts have generally not allowed gifts to a child to take the place of child support.
Q: HOW ARE CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS MADE?
A: Federal regulations require the Child Support Division to open cases and establish accounts at the request of either parent. Support payments must be paid to the agency specified in the court order (usually the Washington County Clerk) for the other parent to receive credit. GENERALLY, NO CREDIT WILL BE GIVEN FOR PAYMENTS MADE TO THE CUSTODIAL PARENT OR IN-KIND PAYMENTS SUCH AS PURCHASE OF CLOTHING, SCHOOL SUPPLIES, RENT, ETC. Paying through the Clerk will ensure an accurate record of your payments. Payments should always clearly identify the case number and for whom the payment is made.
Q: WHAT IF THE PARENTS OF THE CHILD(REN) WERE NEVER MARRIED TO EACH OTHER?
A: Then an action to establish paternity must be commenced.
Q: WHAT IS PATERNITY AND WHAT DOES ESTABLISHING PATERNITY MEAN?
A: Paternity is fatherhood. Establishing paternity simply means to make the biological father the "legal" father.
Q: WHY IS ESTABLISHING PATERNITY IMPORTANT?
A: Both parents and the child have the right to a parent-child relationship. Both parents and the child deserve an opportunity to develop, enjoy and grow in this relationship. Both parents have the right to know and the responsibility to support their own son or daughter.
IDENTITY: It is important to know who we are. Your child has the right to the sense of belonging that comes from knowing both parents.
MONEY: The law requires both parents to support their children. This is true even with an unplanned pregnancy. Children supported by one parent often do not have enough money for their needs.
BENEFITS: Your child has the right to other benefits from both parents. These benefits may include Social Security, insurance benefits, inheritance rights, veteran's and other types of benefits.
MEDICAID: Your child may need a complete Medicaid history from the families of both parents. This could include inherited health problems.
Q: WHAT ARE THE BENEFITS TO THE FATHER OF ESTABLISHING PATERNITY?
A: The father has the opportunity to be a father to the child. He can experience the companionship and rewards that come with spending time with his child. The father has the right to establish and maintain a relationship with his child, as well as an obligation to financially support his child.
Q: WHAT IF THE FATHER OR MOTHER IS NOT 18?
A: The age of the father or mother is not relevant under paternity establishment laws.
Q: HOW LONG AFTER A CHILD IS BORN CAN PATERNITY BE ESTABLISHED?
A: Indiana law permits a paternity action to be started anytime before the child reaches the age of 21.
Q: CAN THE NAME OF THE FATHER BE PUT ON THE CHILD'S BIRTH CERTIFICATE?
A: That depends on the situation. A married woman's husband will be recorded as the father on the child's birth certificate. When a woman has been divorced or widowed for less than ten (10) months, her husband at the time of conception is named as the father on the child's birth certificate. When the mother is not married at the time of conception or birth, the name of the father can appear on the child's birth certificate if a paternity affidavit has been completed and notarized first. When the Court establishes paternity, the name of the father as determined by the Court will be entered on the birth certificate.
Q: DOES THE FATHER HAVE THE RIGHT TO SEE OR VISIT THE CHILD?
A: Yes. Visitation / Parenting Time can be a mutual arrangement between the parents or established by a court order. The father has the right to seek court-ordered custody and visitation.
Q: WHAT HAPPENS IF I AM NOT SURE WHO THE FATHER IS?
A: When more than one man could be the father of a baby, each will be required to give a blood sample and submit to genetic testing. These tests are highly accurate, and it is almost always possible to determine who fathered a baby and to rule out anyone who did not. That is one reason why so few paternity cases go to trial.
Q: IF BLOOD TESTS ARE NECESSARY, WHO PAYS FOR THEM?
A: If the mother is an AFDC recipient the State will prepay the blood-testing. If the blood test identifies the father, then the father will repay the State. If the mother is not an AFDC recipient, then both the mother and the father will prepay the entire cost of the blood-testing. Once the results comeback, either the mother or the father will pay depending on the test results.
Q: IS THERE AN AGE LIMIT FOR THE BLOOD TESTS TO BE DONE ON A CHILD?
A: Children of any age may be tested. However, many Child Support Divisions will not test the child before the age of six (6) months and must be completed before the child turns eighteen (18). Most of the time it takes four (4) to eight (8) weeks to get the results.
Q: DESPITE THE BLOOD TESTS, THE ALLEGED FATHER STILL SAYS HE IS NOT THE FATHER. WILL THE CASE BE CLOSED?
A: No! If the blood tests show that it is likely that he is the father, the matter will be set for trial and paternity will be decided by the Judge. If the issue of paternity is to be tried, then the Child Support Division will have to do additional investigation to prepare for trial. Once the Child Support Division believes that it is prepared for trial, it will request the court to set the date for trial. This process could take from six (6) months to over one year.
Q: THE FATHER OF MY CHILD SAID I WOULD NEVER GET A PATERNITY JUDGMENT ON HIM BECAUSE HE WOULD JUST LEAVE THE STATE. WHAT CAN I DO?
A: If the alleged father is found and fails to respond to a formal complaint, a default judgment can be entered in court establishing paternity. At the same time, a court order for support may be issued. This order can be enforced in other States.
Q: CAN CHILD SUPPORT STILL BE COLLECTED IF THE NONCUSTODIAL PARENT MOVES OUT OF THE STATE OF INDIANA?
A: Yes. Most of the enforcement tools referred to above apply to out-of-state noncustodial parents, as well. In fact, Attorney General Janet Reno has ordered the United States Justice Department to step up the pursuit and punishment of parents who fail to make court-ordered child support payments after moving across state lines. In order to qualify for a federal case, the unpaid child support must be greater than $5,000.00, or outstanding for more than one year.
Q: WHAT IF THE OTHER PARENT CANNOT BE FOUND LOCALLY?
A: Using the Social Security number, the Parent Locator Service will check the records of other state agencies such as motor vehicle registration, unemployment insurance, income tax and law enforcement. If the search finds that the parent has moved to another state, it can ask the other state to search.
Q: IF I AM ON AFDC, AM I STILL ELIGIBLE TO RECEIVE CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS FROM THE NONCUSTODIAL PARENT?
A: If you are receiving Aid to Families with Dependent Children or Medicaid, you have automatically assigned to the Child Support Division or the State of Indiana your right to receive all current and past due child and medical support. Any payments collected on your behalf go toward paying back the state and federal government for AFDC payments made to your family. Any Medicaid support recovered goes toward paying back Medicaid. If you have been receiving AFDC or Medicaid, and then stop receiving AFDC or Medicaid, the Child Support Division is required by law to continue to enforce the support order. If you do not want the continued services of the Child Support Division, you must notify the office in writing that you no longer want their assistance.
Q: I AM APPLYING FOR AFDC AND/OR MEDICAID. DO I HAVE TO ASK FOR CHILD SUPPORT FROM THE OTHER PARENT?
A: As a condition of eligibility for AFDC or Medicaid, you must cooperate with the Child Support Division in identifying and getting child support and Medicaid support from the other parent.
Q: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO COOPERATE WITH THE CHILD SUPPORT DIVISION?
A: It means you must provide any information or documents needed by the Child Support Division to establish paternity and/or locate the parent, and to get support payments for your child.
Q: WHAT DOES IT MEAN TO "ASSIGN" MY SUPPORT RIGHTS?
A: It means you are giving the State of Indiana the right to keep any child support and Medicaid support money they collect for you. The county will then use that money to pay back any AFDC payments or Medicaid services that have already been given to you. Any support money collected that is more than the AFDC benefits you have received will be paid to you. If you do not agree to "assign your support rights" you will not get any AFDC money or Medicaid benefits for yourself.
Q: I WANT THE CHILD SUPPORT DIVISION TO ENFORCE MY COURT ORDER. IS THE INFORMATION I PROVIDE OPEN TO THE PUBLIC?
A: The files are not open to the public. However, anything filed with the court can be seen by the public. In general, the information from the files will not be released, except as authorized by current law or by court order.
Q: MY CHILD'S FATHER WORKS IRREGULARLY AND IS PAID IN CASH,THEREFORE, A WAGE WITHHOLDING ORDER HAS NOT WORKED FOR ME. WHAT WILL?
A: Our office can send delinquency notices, timely payment requests, set citation appointments, schedule contempt and citation hearings. Other enforcement techniques include attachment of property, credit bureau reporting, interception of income tax refund, garnishment, and s.
Q: THE CHILDREN'S FATHER REFUSES TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT, BUT OWNS A GOOD DEAL OF PROPERTY IN THE COUNTY. CAN A LIENBE ISSUED AT THE SAME TIME THE ORDER FOR SUPPORT IS ESTABLISHED IN COURT?
A: Yes. But you must remember a lien on property does not by itself result in the immediate collection of any money. It only prevents the owner from selling, transferring, or borrowing against the property until the child support debt is paid. However, the presence of a property lien may encourage the non-custodial parent to pay the past-due child support in order to retain clear title to the property.
Q: CAN I HAVE THE WAGE WITHHOLDING APPLIED TO MY EXISTING CHILD SUPPORT ORDER?
A: Yes, you can apply for the wage withholding through our office. Though there are limits on how much of a person's check can be withheld, wage withholding can be used for both ongoing support and arrears.
Q: IS IT POSSIBLE TO COLLECT THE SUPPORT PAYMENTS FROM PERSONAL PROPERTY THE ABSENT PARENT HAS?
A: Yes, as long as the property is owned by the absent parent. if you are aware of an accurate description of the personal property that the obligated parent own, please provide it to our office and we will file the lien.
Q: MY CHILDREN'S FATHER OWNS A CROSS-COUNTRY MOVING VAN AND A NICE HOME. WHY WON'T THE CHILD SUPPORT OFFICE PUT A LIEN ON EITHER ONE?
A: Indiana law prevents creditors from placing liens on either an individual's primary residence or to attach property that a person needs to make a living.
Q: MY CHILDREN'S FATHER LOST HIS JOB AND IS COLLECTING UNEMPLOYMENT COMPENSATION. CAN CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS BE DEDUCTED AND SENT TO ME?
A: Yes. Unemployment compensation, and other State and Federal benefits can be tapped for child support. If you become aware of any changes in the obligated parent's employment, please notify our office.
Q: WHAT IF THE NONCUSTODIAL PARENT DOES NOT HAVE A JOB OR ANY OTHER INCOME OR ASSETS?
A: There is some truth to the old saying, "You can't squeeze blood out of a turnip." However, the Court will order him or her to find a job and to notify the Court immediately when a job has been found. We can also intercept federal and state income tax refunds from the parent who owes child support.
Q: MY EX-WIFE HAS DECLARED BANKRUPTCY AND SAYS SHE DOESN'T HAVE TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT. IS THAT TRUE?
A: Bankruptcy does not necessarily end the child support obligation. Child support arrears are not discharged by bankruptcy. In fact, a claim for child support makes the custodial parent a creditor and child support claims may be given priority over other creditors' claims. It is a good idea for the child support agreement to state that bankruptcy will not end the child support obligation.
Q: MY BOY FRIEND IS ON A MILITARY BASE ABROAD AND I AM ABOUT TO HAVE HIS CHILD, HOW DO I ESTABLISH PATERNITY AND OBTAIN AN ORDER FOR SUPPORT?
A: You can sign up for our program. If the alleged father is willing to sign documents to admit paternity and agree to support, then enforcement can proceed by a wage withholding order. If the alleged father is on a naval ship or lives on a military base abroad and will not admit paternity, it may be necessary to wait until he returns to the United States for blood work to be done.
Q: MY EX-SPOUSE IS IN THE NAVY. HOW DO I GO HAVE CHILD SUPPORT PAYMENTS DEDUCTED FROM HIS PAYCHECK?
A: If a service member is not meeting a support obligation and will not agree to have payments allotted from his or her paycheck, a military official can have the payments deducted in accordance with the support order.
Q: THE FATHER OF MY CHILD IS IN JAIL. CAN I GET SUPPORT?
A: The father continues to be obligated for support, and past-due support may accumulate while he is in jail. But unless he has other assets, such as property or any income such as wages from a work-release program, it is unlikely that support can be collected while he is in jail. However, your support order may be modified so that payment is deferred until he is released and working.