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Appeal affirms denial of emancipation; includes mother in support

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed a Floyd Superior Court ruling denying emancipation of a 19-year-old, but sent the case back to the trial court for recalculation of her support payments to include her mother as well as her father.

Cassandra Ashabranner’s father, David Ashabranner, filed a motion for emancipation that would have ended his child support payments to her. She lived alone after her mother, Sandy Wilkins, moved out of the apartment the two had shared in Clarksville.

In David Ashabranner v. Sandy Wilkins, f/k/a Ashabranner, No. 22A01-1109-DR-411, the appeals court said that while both the daughter and mother were comforted by the mother’s relocation to provide her daughter a future property, “this move was not initiated by Cassandra, and therefore she is not emancipated,” according to the unanimous ruling written by Chief Judge Margret Robb.

“Father next argues that if we affirm the trial court order continuing his child support obligation, which we do, then Mother should also be ordered to pay child support. We agree,” Robb wrote. “We remand this case to the trial court for calculating the correct amount of Mother’s child support obligation and enter an order requiring Mother pay accordingly. To the extent that such calculation warrants modification of the amount of Father’s obligation, the trial court is ordered to make the appropriate adjustment.”

The daughter works as a waitress and is pursuing post-secondary education. “It is prudent to note here that the only reason the trial court should not consider Cassandra’s income at this point is because the issue before it is one of basic child support and not one of post-secondary education expenses,” according to the order. “If the trial court had before it a petition for post-secondary education expenses, Cassandra’s income would necessarily be fair game for the trial court’s consideration.”

The order concluded, “We applaud Cassandra for her courage and determination to seek an education and provide for herself financially, and we refuse to hold her efforts and resolve to do so against her. The trial court shall not consider her income in determining the amount of financial support she receives from her parents.”

 

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