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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. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

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