Family law disputes can be stressful for parents and children alike. Resolving these issues as efficiently as possible is important and in the best interest of all concerned parties. The components of an Indiana child support calculation pertain to legal custodial and financial matters that Indiana family law attorneys can help parents resolve. One such factor is determining if a parent is entitled to a child support credit for insurance payments.
Who Is Entitled to a Child Support Credit for Insurance Payments?
Generally, the regulations regarding child support in Indiana derive from Indiana Code Title 31: Family Law and Juvenile Law, specifically Article 16: Family Law: Support of Children and Other Dependents, as well as the Indiana Rules of Court: Child Support Rules and Guidelines.
Under Indiana Child Support Rules 3(G)(3) and 3(E)(2) in general, the parent that actually incurs and pays for the premium expense for a child’s health insurance should be the party that receives a child support credit for insurance payments.
The Indiana Court of Appeals and the Indiana Supreme Court have weighed in on family law disputes regarding child support payments and insurance credits and which party is the correct party to be receiving the credit and for how much. A lawyer for child support matters can help you better understand how Indiana statutes and case law impact your specific situation.
Standard Considerations in an Indiana Child Support Calculation
A court reviews several factors when calculating how much a parent should pay in child support. These factors include:
- The financial resources of the custodial and noncustodial parent;
- The standard of living the child would have continued enjoying if not for the separation or divorce;
- The child’s educational needs; and
- The child’s physical and mental condition.
Case Law for the Indiana Child Support Calculation
In D.W. v. L.W., the Indiana Court of Appeals held that the trial court had abused its discretion when denying the father’s motion to correct an error. The issue in that case arose because the Indiana guidelines did not provide specific guidance for when a court utilized two offsetting child support worksheets, which result in the question of how a single health insurance premium should be “divided among the children and two worksheets for the purposes of calculating any credit due the paying parent.”
During the relevant times in the case, two of the children resided with the mother, while another child resided with the father. The mother held health insurance for all three children and actually incurred a single premium expense of $57 per week for all three children.
When a subsequent hearing for child support modifications arose between the parents, the trial court used two worksheets for the Indiana child support calculation and awarded the mother two $57 premium credits, totaling $114. The court reasoned that the trial court’s calculation with the “two $57 credits was unsupported by the guidelines or the record [and] therefore an abuse of discretion.”
An Opinion of the Indiana Supreme Court on the Child Support Credit for Insurance Payments
The Indiana Supreme Court weighed in on this issue in Johnson v. Johnson. However, the issue in that case focused more on what insurance plan the mother obtained from her employer and how much the father had to pay the mother back for her insurance premium expenses for their two children.
Subsequent to the divorce, the mother obtained a family insurance plan from her employer to insure the two children she had with the father. The employer also offered other plans, such as the “Individual” and the “Individual plus one.”
The mother actually incurred $76.67 per week in insurance premiums for the two children. The trial court ordered the father to pay the mother two-thirds of the costs of insuring all three of her children, totaling up to $76.67 per week. (The mother had a third child with a different man after the divorce.) The father appealed, stating the trial court should have calculated his portion as the difference between the family plan and the Individual plus one plan.
However, because the mother had two children with the father, she was ineligible for the individual plus one plan. The Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s ruling requiring the father to pay two-thirds of the costs of insurance premiums to the mother, reasoning that it was most equitable to the parties, and the trial court was in best position to tailor a judgment to the circumstances of the parties.
Lessons from the Courts on the Child Support Credit for Insurance Payments
These two family law disputes touch on a narrow issue with little clarity within family law but have established a more predictable outcome for similar situations. The party to receive the insurance credit has to actually incur the expense for insurance premiums, and, if there are two worksheets involved in the Indiana child support calculation, a credit should not count twice. Further, trial courts are in the best position to tailor child support modifications and orders and will attempt to do so in the most equitable manner to all parties involved.
If you have questions about child support credit for insurance payments or other child support matters, Julie Camden of Camden & Meridew, P.C. practices in the area of family law and has successfully litigated and handled various family law disputes. Julie would be happy to answer any questions regarding family law, or one of her additional areas of practice. To schedule a consultation, call 317-770-0000 or complete the firm’s online contact form.
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