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Appellate court affirms reinstatement of father’s license

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The Indiana Court of Appeals split Thursday over whether a father who was more than $100,000 behind in child support should be allowed to have his driving privileges reinstated.

In Denise A. Mertz a/k/a Denise A. Grimmer v. Robert G. Mertz, 64A03-1108-DR-360, Robert Mertz sought in 2010 to modify his child support obligation regarding his youngest daughter, J.M. At the time, Mertz had been found in contempt twice for not paying child support, jailed twice, and had criminal charges filed against him for not paying. His driving privileges were suspended in 2008 pursuant to Indiana Code 31-16-12-7 for not paying.

The trial court granted Mertz’s motion, citing that his income had dropped since 2005, when the last support order was entered. Imputing his income at $1,000 a week based on Mertz's employment skills and the economy, the judge ruled he was to pay $49 toward his current support and $62 to educational expenses, with the remaining amount toward his arrearages, which the judge said could be as much as $100,000. Mertz agreed to pay half of his income wages toward these amounts.

The judge also reinstated Mertz’s driver’s license because of his plan to pay back his owed support.

His ex-wife, Denise Grimmer, objected, arguing that Mertz has a history of hiding his income and his driving privileges shouldn’t be reinstated.

The appellate court has yet to look at I.C. 31-16-12-7 and -11, which deal with license suspension and reinstatement for failure to pay child support. Section 11 says the court may stay the suspension if the person pays the child support arrearage in full; or an income withholding order under I.C. 31-16-15 … is implemented and a payment plan to pay the arrearage is established.

Judges Nancy Vaidik and Edward Najam upheld the license reinstatement, pointing out the judge realized if Mertz is able to drive, he is more likely to meet his support obligations. His plan to pay one-half of his income toward his obligation was sufficient, they held.

Chief Judge Margret Robb dissented on this point, writing, “Given that the two alternatives for reinstatement are to pay in full or establish a payment plan to pay, the ‘plain, ordinary, and usual meaning’ of ‘a payment plan to pay the arrearage’ is a plan that will pay the arrearage in full, not simply pay toward or pay down the arrearage.”

Robb calculated that that statutory interest alone on $100,000 of arrearage would exceed $140 a week, and Mertz’s payment plan will barely make a dent in it.

If Mertz established a plan to pay the maximum amount allowed by law – 65 percent of his income – then she believes the trial court could have reinstated his driving privileges.

The judges unanimously upheld the decision to modify Mertz’s support obligation.

 

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  1. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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