ILNews

Unwed father must reimburse Medicaid

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2007
Keywords
Back to TopCommentsE-mailPrintBookmark and Share
An order for an unwed father to pay back Medicaid at least 50 percent of birthing expenses for the mother and baby does not violate the father's rights under the U.S. Constitution, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

In In the Matter of the Paternity of A.R.S.A.; Alberto S. Meneses v. Rudit A. Legunes, 79A04-0706-JV-323, Meneses appealed the trial court order that he has to pay Medicaid 50 percent of the birthing expenses incurred during the birth of his son. Meneses is not married to the mother, Legunes, but does live with her.

Meneses argues that Indiana Code 31-14-17-1 only pertains to the reimbursement of the mother's medical expenses, not the expenses of the infant. He also argues his rights are being violated under the Equal Protection Clause and Due Process Clause of the 14th Amendment, contending that married fathers are not required to reimburse expenses to Medicaid and the court never allowed him an opportunity to show if he could pay the amount ordered in the judgment.

Meneses signed a paternity affidavit declaring himself to be the biological father of A.R.S.A., and the trial court later entered an order establishing his paternity. In a separate judgment, the trial court ordered Meneses to pay 50 percent of the baby's birthing expenses totaling nearly $3,300. Meneses filed a motion to correct error regarding the Medicaid birthing expenses; the trial court denied the motion.

Indiana Code 31-14-17-1 states the court "shall order the father to pay at least fifty percent (50%) of the reasonable and necessary expenses of the mother's pregnancy and childbirth, including the cost of:" prenatal care, delivery, hospitalization, and postnatal care. Judge Patricia Riley wrote the baby's medical expenses were incurred because of and immediately following his birth, and the plain language of the statute orders the father to pay 50 percent of expenses of mother's pregnancy and childbirth.

"Any expenses relating to childbirth logically include expenses incurred by the infant during and immediately following birth," Judge Riley wrote.

Meneses also argues the Indiana statute violates the Equal Protection Clause because only unwed fathers can be ordered to pay the expenses and no similar obligation exists for married fathers.

Judge Riley wrote a state's interest in requiring men to provide for children born out-of-wedlock and reimburse medical expenses is a "legitimate goal" because it requires a man to accept financial responsibility similar to what married men do voluntarily.

His rights were not violated because the court did not hold a hearing to determine how much money he would be able to afford to reimburse Medicaid. The federal and state Medicaid statutes for reimbursement don't impose any obligation on the trial court to conduct an inquiry into the father's ability to pay and instead impose a certain financial responsibility upon the father, she wrote.
ADVERTISEMENT

Post a comment to this story

COMMENTS POLICY
We reserve the right to remove any post that we feel is obscene, profane, vulgar, racist, sexually explicit, abusive, or hateful.
 
You are legally responsible for what you post and your anonymity is not guaranteed.
 
Posts that insult, defame, threaten, harass or abuse other readers or people mentioned in Indiana Lawyer editorial content are also subject to removal. Please respect the privacy of individuals and refrain from posting personal information.
 
No solicitations, spamming or advertisements are allowed. Readers may post links to other informational websites that are relevant to the topic at hand, but please do not link to objectionable material.
 
We may remove messages that are unrelated to the topic, encourage illegal activity, use all capital letters or are unreadable.
 

Messages that are flagged by readers as objectionable will be reviewed and may or may not be removed. Please do not flag a post simply because you disagree with it.

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. Your article is a good intro the recent amendments to Fed.R.Civ.P. For a much longer - though not necessarily better -- summary, counsel might want to read THE CHIEF UMPIRE IS CHANGING THE STRIKE ZONE, which I co-authored and which was just published in the January issue of THE VERDICT (the monthly publication of the Indiana Trial Lawyers Association).

  2. Thank you, John Smith, for pointing out a needed correction. The article has been revised.

  3. The "National institute for Justice" is an agency for the Dept of Justice. That is not the law firm you are talking about in this article. The "institute for justice" is a public interest law firm. http://ij.org/ thanks for interesting article however

  4. I would like to try to find a lawyer as soon possible I've had my money stolen off of my bank card driver pressed charges and I try to get the information they need it and a Social Security board is just give me a hold up a run around for no reason and now it think it might be too late cuz its been over a year I believe and I can't get the right information they need because they keep giving me the runaroundwhat should I do about that

  5. It is wonderful that Indiana DOC is making some truly admirable and positive changes. People with serious mental illness, intellectual disability or developmental disability will benefit from these changes. It will be much better if people can get some help and resources that promote their health and growth than if they suffer alone. If people experience positive growth or healing of their health issues, they may be less likely to do the things that caused them to come to prison in the first place. This will be of benefit for everyone. I am also so happy that Indiana DOC added correctional personnel and mental health staffing. These are tough issues to work with. There should be adequate staffing in prisons so correctional officers and other staff are able to do the kind of work they really want to do-helping people grow and change-rather than just trying to manage chaos. Correctional officers and other staff deserve this. It would be great to see increased mental health services and services for people with intellectual or developmental disabilities in the community so that fewer people will have to receive help and support in prisons. Community services would like be less expensive, inherently less demeaning and just a whole lot better for everyone.

ADVERTISEMENT