ILNews

Child support abatement starts on petition date

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court order setting the date in which an incarcerated man can receive an abatement in his child support, finding the date the man filed his order was when it could be first applied. The ruling could open the door for the Indiana Supreme Court to decide when an abatement can take effect.

In In re the marriage of: Gary Becker v. Heather Becker, No. 49A04-0804-CV-205, Gary Becker appealed the trial court order modifying his child support.

Becker was convicted and sentenced in 1996 and 1997 for various crimes; he filed for divorce in September 1997. In February 1998, the trial court dissolved the marriage and set Becker's child support obligation at $110 per week.

In December 2007, Becker filed a motion for relief from the order, citing the February 2007 Indiana Supreme Court decision on Lambert v. Lambert, N.E.2d 1176 (Ind. 2007).

The trial court abated Becker's support to $25 a week based on Lambert and ruled the decision would be retroactive to the date of the Lambert decision. The abatement would last until Becker's projected earliest possible release from incarceration in August 2009.

Becker's appeal focuses on when his abatement should take effect. He argues it should be retroactive to his original decree of dissolution in 1998. The appellate court, citing Quinn v. Threlkel, 858 N.E.2d 665, 674 (Ind. Ct. App. 2006), reversed the trial court and made the effective date the day Becker filed the motion - Dec. 28, 2007. Quinn allows a trial court's discretion in modifying child support effective as to the date the petition is filed, wrote Judge Patricia Riley.

The Court of Appeals decision could lead the way to an appeal to the Indiana Supreme Court to decide the retroactivity of the Lambert decision. The Lambert decision never mentions if the decision is retroactive and whether retroactivity would begin at the original dissolution order, the date of the Lambert ruling, or the date the petitioner files a motion for modification.
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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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