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Child support arrearage dispute sent back to trial court

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The Indiana Court of Appeals instructed a trial court to do the work necessary before entering an order garnishing a parent’s money for child support.  

A father, incarcerated in the Indiana Department of Correction, disputed an income withholding order that garnished his inmate trust fund account to pay down his child support arrearages.

He pointed to a pre-dispositional report from April 2008 that found he did not have the ability to pay child support and that no arrears would be sought against him. Also, the father noted the court had not issued a new order regarding payment of the arrearages.

The father then requested a hearing to present evidence that the arrearage never should have accrued, to determine the amount of any arrearage owed, and to determine the monthly amount he should pay, if any. In addition, he requested the court suspend the garnishment of his prison account until his release from incarceration.

The trial court issued an “Order Denying Father’s Request to Disallow Income Withholding Order.”

The Court of Appeals concluded the trial court abused its discretion in denying the father’s motion in In Re: Paternity of J.M.; C.M. v. T.S., 18A02-1308-JP-684.
It reversed and remanded with instructions to conduct an evidentiary hearing for the purpose of determining the arrearage amount and the father’s ability to pay plus a payment schedule.

In reaching its conclusion, the Court of Appeals pointed out that the trial court never entered an income withholding order with respect to any arrearage and, in fact, never entered an order which required the father to make payments toward his arrearage.

Also, the lower court did not hear any evidence about the father’s ability to pay his arrearage. The trial court did not establish the total amount of the arrearage or set up a payment schedule.

Judge Margaret Robb wrote a separate opinion. She concurred in substance with the majority’s opinion but pointed out the trial court’s denial was signed only by a magistrate and not reviewed or approved by the judge.
 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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