ILNews

Judges reverse insurance double credit

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2009
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A trial court erred when it issued a mother two health insurance credits instead of one, which led to a miscalculation of the child support owed between the parents, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today.

In D.W. v. L.W., No. 20A04-0907-CV-375, father D.W. paid child support to his ex-wife L.W. for his three minor children, who lived with their mother. The mother paid nearly $57 a week in premiums for health insurance covering the three kids.

One of the children eventually moved in with the father and the child support order was modified. The trial court granted the mother a health insurance credit of $57 per week for 2007, and ordered father's child support obligation re-set to $12 a week during the 2007-2008 time period. The trial court relied on two offsetting child support worksheets, which separately calculated the father's obligation with respect to the two kids living with the mother and the mother's offsetting obligation with respect to the child living with the father. Both worksheets included the health insurance credit and a corresponding $57 credit to the mother.

The trial court denied the father's motion to correct error.

The Court of Appeals found the trial court erred by granting a $114 credit to the mother, rather than the single $57 per week credit. Under the Indiana Child Support Rules and Guidelines, it would be correct for the court to add $57 per week to the basic child support amount for all three children and give the mother a credit for the same amount. This case is not straightforward though, wrote Judge Margret Robb, because the mother paid the premium for all three kids, but only two lived with her.

"The guidelines do not provide specific guidance for the resulting question of how a single health insurance premium is to be divided among the children and the two worksheets for purposes of calculating any credit due the paying parent," she wrote.

The father argued for a prorated premium and credit under the circumstances but didn't cite any authority to support it. But the results of the two worksheets are ultimately combined, and the Court of Appeals can't say the trial court's failure to divide the costs and credits between the two worksheets was an abuse of discretion by itself.

The appellate court did agree with the father that it was improper for the court to credit the mother twice for the health insurance premium. The trial court made no finding that deviation from the guidelines was appropriate based on the circumstances of the case.

"Further, if either parent had custody of all three minor children, the language of the guidelines would instruct the trial court to count the credit only once. We see no reason to count the credit twice here, simply because Mother has custody of only two of the children," wrote Judge Robb.

The appellate court remanded with instructions the trial court order mother to pay the father $23 per week in child support for the 2007-2008 time period and determine any support arrearage owing between the two.
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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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