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COA affirms reduction of incarcerated father’s child support obligation

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A trial court did not abuse its discretion by reducing a father’s child support and arrearage to an absolute minimum level after he requested review of his obligation, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Friday. The man, who is incarcerated, claimed the court did not consider his income or needs when making the reduction.

David Hooker has two children with his ex-wife and was ordered to pay $8 a week in child support. Hooker was incarcerated when the marriage was dissolved. Three years later, he asked for review of his child support obligation. Neither he nor his ex-wife attended the hearing on the matter.

The state requested – and the trial court agreed – that Hooker’s support should be reduced to $1 a week, with an additional $3 a week going toward his accrued arrearage. Once he is released from prison – which likely won’t be until 2035, his support will revert back to $8 per week, the court ruled.

Hooker appealed, claiming the trial court didn’t consider his income or needs when imposing the weekly sum. Judge Patricia Riley pointed out that even in situations where the noncustodial parent has no income, courts have routinely established a child support obligation at some minimum level.

The child support arrearage must be satisfied and the $55 yearly fee collected by the clerk of the court is a mandatory fee that cannot be deducted from his child support payments.

“As such, David’s support payment and arrearage—as minimal as they are—are transmitted integrally to the minor children. Mindful that David has an obligation to his children, we cannot conclude that the trial abused its discretion by reducing his child support and arrearage to an absolute minimum level,” Riley wrote in David Hooker v. Shari Hooker, 82A04-1311-DR-592.

Also, the judges rejected Hooker’s claim that his due process rights were violated when the trial court did not order him transported to the hearing or otherwise make an attempt to secure his presence. A prisoner involved in a civil lawsuit unrelated to the case resulting in incarceration has no right to a transport order, Riley pointed out. But Hooker never filed a motion to request his attendance by video or telephonic conferencing, never asked for the appointment of a guardian ad litem to represent his interest, nor did he submit his case by documentary evidence.
 

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  1. For many years this young man was "family" being my cousin's son. Then he decided to ignore my existence and that of my daughter who was very hurt by his actions after growing up admiring, Jason. Glad he is doing well, as for his opinion, if you care so much you wouldn't ignore the feelings of those who cared so much about you for years, Jason.

  2. Good riddance to this dangerous activist judge

  3. What is the one thing the Hoosier legal status quo hates more than a whistleblower? A lawyer whistleblower taking on the system man to man. That must never be rewarded, must always, always, always be punished, lest the whole rotten tree be felled.

  4. I want to post this to keep this tread alive and hope more of David's former clients might come forward. In my case, this coward of a man represented me from June 2014 for a couple of months before I fired him. I knew something was wrong when he blatantly lied about what he had advised me in my contentious and unfortunate divorce trial. His impact on the proceedings cast a very long shadow and continues to impact me after a lengthy 19 month divorce. I would join a class action suit.

  5. The dispute in LB Indiana regarding lake front property rights is typical of most beach communities along our Great Lakes. Simply put, communication to non owners when visiting the lakefront would be beneficial. The Great Lakes are designated navigational waters (including shorelines). The high-water mark signifies the area one is able to navigate. This means you can walk, run, skip, etc. along the shores. You can't however loiter, camp, sunbath in front of someones property. Informational signs may be helpful to owners and visitors. Our Great Lakes are a treasure that should be enjoyed by all. PS We should all be concerned that the Long Beach, Indiana community is on septic systems.

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