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Changes coming to Child Support Rules

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An order issued by the Indiana Supreme Court today amending the state's Child Support Rules and Guidelines caused two justices to dissent in part over worries a change may alter precedent. The amendments take effect Jan. 1. 2010.

Justices Frank Sullivan and Robert Rucker dissented in part from the amended guidelines because they believed they overrule Grant v. Hager, 868 N.E.2d 801 (Ind. 2007), which held there is a rebuttable presumption that neither parent owes the other support in circumstances where the Child Support Obligation Worksheet calculation produced a negative amount for the noncustodial parent's child support payment because of the application of the Parenting Time Credit. Under the amendments, there will now be a rebuttable presumption in such cases that the custodial parent must make child support payments to the noncustodial parent equal to the negative amount.

"We believe that the Guidelines' presumption in such circumstances should continue to be that neither parent owes the other support," the justices wrote. They also noted, notwithstanding this amendment, that the trial court has the authority to deviate from the Guidelines amount and order that neither parent owes the other support based on their respective incomes and parenting time arrangements if the court concludes it would be unjust not to do so, and then makes the written finding mandated by Child Support Rule 3.

In the order detailing the changes, the high court cautioned against attributing potential incomes that result in unrealistic child support obligations and may cause excessive arrearage.

"Research shows that on average more noncustodial parental involvement is associated with greater educational attainment and lower juvenile delinquency," the order noted. "Ordering support for low-income parents at levels they can reasonably pay may improve noncustodial parent-child contact, and in turn, the outcomes for their children."

Other notable changes to the guidelines:

- The order put Health Care and Medical Support, and Extraordinary Expenses into new, separate guidelines and expanded on both topics.

- A new, revised low-income adjustment sets the obligation amount for combined weekly incomes of $100 at $12 for one child; the current Guidelines assign $25 per week for one child.

- The order adjusted the schedules for weekly support payments to include combined weekly adjusted income between $4,000 and $10,000; previously a formula was provided for those incomes above $4,000. A formula will now apply to incomes above $10,000.

- Under the new guidelines, Social Security Disability benefits paid for a child are now recognized as income of the disabled parent who earned the benefits, and those benefits are included in the Weekly Gross Income of that parent. Excess SSD benefit shall be applied as payment toward an existing arrearage, and once the arrearage is satisfied, any SSD benefit that exceeds the current support obligation is considered a gratuity. The revised guidelines change the law regarding the application of SSD benefits, and the holding in Hieston v. State, N.E.2d 59 (Ind. Ct. App. 2008), and its progeny, have been superseded by the change.

In addition to the Child Support Rules and Guidelines, the Supreme Court issued an order today amending the Rules of Evidence to require certain statements be recorded before they can be entered into evidence in Indiana trial courts. Click here to read more about this change.

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  1. This law is troubling in two respects: First, why wasn't the law reviewed "with the intention of getting all the facts surrounding the legislation and its actual impact on the marketplace" BEFORE it was passed and signed? Seems a bit backwards to me (even acknowledging that this is the Indiana state legislature we're talking about. Second, what is it with the laws in this state that seem to create artificial monopolies in various industries? Besides this one, the other law that comes to mind is the legislation that governed the granting of licenses to firms that wanted to set up craft distilleries. The licensing was limited to only those entities that were already in the craft beer brewing business. Republicans in this state talk a big game when it comes to being "business friendly". They're friendly alright . . . to certain businesses.

  2. Gretchen, Asia, Roberto, Tonia, Shannon, Cheri, Nicholas, Sondra, Carey, Laura ... my heart breaks for you, reaching out in a forum in which you are ignored by a professional suffering through both compassion fatigue and the love of filthy lucre. Most if not all of you seek a warm blooded Hoosier attorney unafraid to take on the government and plead that government officials have acted unconstitutionally to try to save a family and/or rescue children in need and/or press individual rights against the Leviathan state. I know an attorney from Kansas who has taken such cases across the country, arguing before half of the federal courts of appeal and presenting cases to the US S.Ct. numerous times seeking cert. Unfortunately, due to his zeal for the constitutional rights of peasants and willingness to confront powerful government bureaucrats seemingly violating the same ... he was denied character and fitness certification to join the Indiana bar, even after he was cleared to sit for, and passed, both the bar exam and ethics exam. And was even admitted to the Indiana federal bar! NOW KNOW THIS .... you will face headwinds and difficulties in locating a zealously motivated Hoosier attorney to face off against powerful government agents who violate the constitution, for those who do so tend to end up as marginalized as Paul Odgen, who was driven from the profession. So beware, many are mere expensive lapdogs, the kind of breed who will gladly take a large retainer, but then fail to press against the status quo and powers that be when told to heel to. It is a common belief among some in Indiana that those attorneys who truly fight the power and rigorously confront corruption often end up, actually or metaphorically, in real life or at least as to their careers, as dead as the late, great Gary Welch. All of that said, I wish you the very best in finding a Hoosier attorney with a fighting spirit to press your rights as far as you can, for you do have rights against government actors, no matter what said actors may tell you otherwise. Attorneys outside the elitist camp are often better fighters that those owing the powers that be for their salaries, corner offices and end of year bonuses. So do not be afraid to retain a green horn or unconnected lawyer, many of them are fine men and woman who are yet untainted by the "unique" Hoosier system.

  3. I am not the John below. He is a journalist and talk show host who knows me through my years working in Kansas government. I did no ask John to post the note below ...

  4. "...not those committed in the heat of an argument." If I ever see a man physically abusing a woman or a child and I'm close enough to intercede I will not ask him why he is abusing her/him. I will give him a split second to cease his attack and put his hands in the air while I call the police. If he continues, I will still call the police but to report, "Man down with a gunshot wound,"instead.

  5. And so the therapeutic state is weaonized. How soon until those with ideologies opposing the elite are disarmed in the name of mental health? If it can start anywhere it can start in the hoosiers' slavishly politically correct capital city.

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