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Does Buying Children Gifts Count as Child Support in Indiana?

Parent calculating child support payment on calculator in Indiana

Indianapolis child support lawyers explain how the system works.

Many divorce agreements in Indiana require one parent to pay child support to the other parent. But what happens if the parent who is supposed to pay child support gives a gift to the child instead? Does that count as child support in Indiana? And does that parent have to pay less that month in child support?

These are just some of the questions we often hear at Hocker Law. Whether you are the parent who made a generous gift or you are the parent of the child who received the gift instead of child support, it’s critical that you know the rules and how to respond.

Do gifts count as child support in Indiana?

The short answer is usually no. If one parent gives a one-time or occasional gift to a child, such gifts are normally not considered part of a parent’s regular child support payments. Even if the gift is a check or cash, the parent who normally pays child support (often on a weekly or monthly basis) must still pay child support that month in most cases, according to the Indiana Rules of Court Child Support Rules and Guidelines.

The only situation when gifts to a child may be counted toward child support is if such an arrangement receives prior court approval. If a parent does not have preapproval for a gift (whether it’s a cash gift or an in-kind gift that reduces the other spouse’s financial burden) to count towards child support, in most cases, such gifts cannot be considered child support.

What counts as child support?

Indiana has very clear guidelines for what constitutes child support. In many cases, one parent is required to make regular payments to the other parent for the purposes of raising and caring for a child. Often, such payments are made monthly or quarterly based on both parents’ weekly gross income. Child support payments often include money for:

  • Food for the child.
  • Clothing for the child.
  • The child’s education.
  • Medical care for the child.
  • Housing-related costs (rent or mortgage) for the primary residence where the child lives.

Please note that child support payments can be amended or modified. However, such changes must be formally made and must have court approval. Parents cannot decide to make changes to child support payments on their own.

How is child support paid?

The parent responsible for paying child support often has several different ways to make child support payments. Options for making such payments often include:

  • Wages withheld from paychecks.
  • Bank checks.
  • Money orders.
  • Credit card
  • Debit card

If you are not sure if a child support payment you made or received meets Indiana’s guidelines for child support payments, talk to an experienced Indiana child support lawyer right away.

What happens if child support is not paid?

There are serious consequences for failure to pay child support in Indiana. Such penalties vary depending on a range of factors, including how much was not paid, how many child support payments were missed, and if a parent intentionally did not pay child support even though they had the financial resources to do so.

In some cases, the State of Indiana allows an obligor (the parent who receives child support from an “income payer” parent) to request that child support payments be withheld from the other parent’s paycheck, according to income withholding law rules under Indiana’s Child Support Program. In other cases, a parent who refuses to pay child support could be fined or imprisoned for failure to pay child support.

How an Indiana child support attorney can help

Legal cases involving child support – especially failure to pay child support or what counts as child support – can be very complicated. Don’t try to navigate your way through such a complicated legal matter on your own. Get the support and legal advice you need. Talk to an Indianapolis child support attorney at Hocker Law, LLC. Our legal team has extensive experience handling family law cases in Indiana, and we look forward to seeing how we can help you.

Contact us and schedule a free consultation with an experienced Indiana family law attorney at our law firm. Call (877) 626-7725 or schedule an appointment online. We have three offices conveniently located in Indiana, including two offices in Indianapolis.

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