By John Owens, Marion County Prosecutor's Office
The Domestic Relations Committee of the Indiana Judicial Center is nearing completion of its review of the Indiana Child Support Guidelines. This periodic review is required by federal law. The review must consider economic data on the cost of raising children and analyze case data, on the application of, and deviations from, the guidelines. Indiana chose to create the guidelines judicially; the Domestic Relations Committee will report its findings to the Indiana Supreme Court who will review and issue the revised guidelines. The Guidelines were last amended on September 15, 2009, with the changes effective January 1, 2010.
The Domestic Relations Committee has met regularly and has heard from an economist who gave a review of monetary factors impacting the Guidelines. Indiana uses an Income Shares approach and is believed to be the only state with a commentary to the guidelines. The Committee also received public testimony about the application of the Guidelines in a May hearing.
Perhaps the most difficult issue facing the Committee is the impact on the Guidelines by the Affordable Care Act (ACA). The guidelines must provide a standard for providing for healthcare for the child(ren). That standard currently centers on the “reasonable cost” of healthcare; marginal cost of the health insurance premium cannot exceed 5% of gross income. The ACA uses a different standard; the cost to insure all household members cannot exceed 8% of the modified adjusted gross income (MAGI) of the household members, or the cost of employer sponsored coverage cannot exceed 9.5% of MAGI for all household members. The ACA also requires an annual review and adjustment which likely will result in an annual change in the applicable percentages. One approach under consideration is to redefine reasonable cost in terms of the ACA standard.
It will be interesting to see the results of the work of the Committee. It is likely that we will see some major changes in the Guidelines, especially with respect to the concept of the reasonable cost of healthcare.
This post was written by John Owens, Marion County Prosecutor's Office. If you would like to submit content or write an article for the Young Lawyers Division page, please email Mary Kay Price at firstname.lastname@example.org.