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Judges disagree on applicable child support guideline

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Against the advice of their attorneys, a divorcing couple entered into a settlement agreement that included a “true up” provision for calculating child support each year. That provision is now at issue before the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Cortney Schwartz and Jodi Heeter entered into a marital settlement agreement in which the two agreed that Schwartz would pay Heeter $430 a week in child support. The agreement also contained the “true up” provision, which read: “At the conclusion of each calendar year, starting with 2009, the parties’ respective weekly child support obligation shall be adjusted and recalculated by taking the amount of their gross taxable income from their tax return(s) for that year, dividing it by 52 weeks, and using this amount at line 1 of the [Child Support Obligation Worksheet], with all other factors remaining the same for purposes of calculating the parties’ adjusted child support obligation.”

For the 2009 and 2010 years, Schwartz calculated his “true up” payment using the 2009 Child Support Guidelines and paid Heeter approximately $6,000 more a year. Heeter argued that Schwartz should have used the guideline that was applicable at the time he was paying, so for the 2010 year, he should have used the 2011 guidelines, resulting in an additional $44,000 or more.

The trial court ruled that Schwartz correctly paid for the 2009 year, but his “true up” payment for 2010 should have been based on the 2010 guidelines.

In Cortney L. Schwartz v. Jodi S. Heeter, 02A03-1109-DR-401, the Court of Appeals was divided over what guideline to use, focusing on the word “factors” in the agreement. The majority concluded that the 2009 guidelines should be used until a modification is made to the child support order, so the trial court was correct regarding the 2009 calculation, but erred on the 2010 calculation.

Judge Paul Mathias dissented on this point, finding the trial court’s determination to be the correct one. He believed the provision in the agreement meant that the other “factors” that will remain the same are the other variables that go into calculating the “true up” amount, not the child support obligation worksheet or formula itself.

The appellate court ruled that Heeter may not on remand seek rulings from the trial court on her prior motions for modification of Schwartz’s support obligation because she didn’t comply with Appellate Rule 46(A)(8), and it denied her request for appellate attorney fees.

The case was remanded for further proceedings.

 

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  1. 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

  2. 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

  3. 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

  4. Here's an idea...how about we MORE heavily regulate the law schools to reduce the surplus of graduates, driving starting salaries up for those new grads, so that we can all pay our insane amount of student loans off in a reasonable amount of time and then be able to afford to do pro bono & low-fee work? I've got friends in other industries, radiology for example, and their schools accept a very limited number of students so there will never be a glut of new grads and everyone's pay stays high. For example, my radiologist friend's school accepted just six new students per year.

  5. I totally agree with John Smith.

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