Child Support and Controlled Expenses




In Indiana in any Dissolution of Marriage, Post-Dissolution, or Paternity action, the court will enter a child support obligation to be paid by one of the parties, (typically the noncustodial parent).  The Indiana Child Support Guidelines are presumed to be applicable in every such proceeding and govern the payment and determination of child support.  The Indiana Child Support Guidelines are based on the assumption the child(ren) live in one (1) household with primary physical custody in one parent who undertakes all of the spending on behalf of the child(ren); therefore, that parent controls the children’s expenses. 

Who pays these costs?  In any matter where child support is exchanged, the child support payee, or support recipient, is responsible for the child(ren)’s “controlled expenses.”  For example, the custodial parent buys a winter coat for the child.  The noncustodial parent will not buy another one.  The custodial parent thereby controls this type of expense.  Controlled expenses account for 15% of the cost of raising the child.  Parenting time credit is based on the more time the parents share, the more expenses are duplicated and transferred and thereby “shared” under the support calculation through the parenting time credit.  The controlled expenses are not shared and remain with the parent that does not get the parenting time credit.

Alternatively, transferred expense is one which is incurred only when the child resides with a parent and is “transferred” with the child as she moves from one parent’s residence to the other.  Examples of this type of expense are food and the major portion of spending for transportation.  A duplicated expense, however, is incurred when two households are maintained for the child(ren).  An example of this type of expense is shelter costs which are not transferred when the child(ren) move(s) from one parent’s residence to the other but remain fixed in each parent’s household and, accordingly, represent duplicated expenditures.

What are controlled Expenses?  Controlled expenses for the child(ren) are not those which are typically transferred or duplicated between households.  Unlike transferred or duplicated expenses, controlled expenses are items like clothing, education, school books and supplies, ordinary uninsured health care and personal care.  There is no exhaustive list.  The controlled expenses are those fixed expenses of the parent who has primary physical custody and are included in the Guideline support schedules.  The fixed expense of the other parent is not included in the support schedules but represents an increase in the total cost of raising the child(ren) attributed to the parenting time plan implemented by the parties.  Therefore, both parents share in these additional costs.  

Controlled expenses are generally not a consideration unless there is equal parenting time.  The Guidelines also note that these categories of expenses are not pertinent for litigation.  They are presented only to explain the factors used in developing the parenting time credit formula.  In reality, it is not uncommon for disagreements to occur regarding the controlled expenses; for instance, what constitutes a controlled expense and or who should provide/launder clothes.  If you find yourself in such a situation, you would be well advised to seek the advice of counsel in reaching a resolution to the issue at hand.

At Hollingsworth & Zivitz, P.C., our team has the experience, the understanding, and the compassion to assist with your family law needs.  If you have questions or concerns regarding divorce, custody, support, or any other family law concerns contact our firm at 317.DIVORCE or visit our website at www.hzlegal.com.