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Court rules on child support, parenting time modifications

March 27, 2012

The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled on a case involving parenting time and child support issues between a mother and father.

In Lorraine (Carpenter) Miller v. Karl Carpenter, No. 29A02-1107-DR-663, the court affirmed and reversed in part a decision by Hamilton Superior Judge Daniel Pfleging and Magistrate William Greenaway.

The case involves Lorraine Miller and Karl Carpenter, a couple who divorced in 2008 and agreed that the mother would have sole legal custody and primary physical custody of the two children, ages 10 and 8. The father had visitation on alternate weekends and overnight on Wednesdays. The parents agreed to follow the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines for holidays and special occasions. In calculating child support, they agreed the father would receive credit for 98 overnights, less than the actual 127 nights spent with the children.

Two years after the agreement, father petitioned for joint legal custody, an increase in parenting time and a decrease in child support. The trial court granted the father’s relief and the child support decrease was based on an increase in the mother’s income, a decrease in her child care costs and an increase in parenting time credit.

But on appeal, the panel reversed the grant of joint legal custody to the father because the evidence does not support a conclusion that a substantial change in circumstances had occurred to justify a modification of legal custody. The appellate judges upheld the trial court’s modification of parenting time because it’s in the child’s best interest.

On child support, the appellate judges determined the trial court did not abuse its discretion in finding the evidence of imputed income was too speculative. Because more than a year had passed since the establishment of the original support order and father’s obligation deviated from the guidelines by more than 20 percent, the appeals panel found the trial court didn’t err in reducing the amount of his obligation.

 

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