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Child support case presents issue of first impression

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The Indiana Court of Appeals was presented with an issue for the first time: whether a child support order should be reduced for the time a child is living on campus when a court has found that the child has repudiated the non-custodial parent, and on that basis refused to enter an educational support order.

Mother Shari Lovold sought contributions from her ex-husband for their son’s college expenses. After interviewing C.E. in camera, the trial court concluded that the teen had repudiated his relationship with his father. After an unpleasant visit in 2004 when C.E. was 11, father Clifford Scott Ellis did not see his son for eight years. C.E. never contacted his father, even after turning 18. The judge found the son’s comments that he did want a relationship with his father to “ring hollow” and be “highly suspect.”

The trial court did not modify Ellis’ child support obligation as Ellis had wanted. He filed a motion to correct error and requested an adjustment because he had been paying his ex-wife $60 – and not the $150 that had been ordered in 2004 – since C.E. started college. He also believed the trial court miscalculated the amount of time C.E. would live at home at 36 weeks instead of 16. The trial court granted mother’s motion to correct error regarding the support and ordered Ellis pay as if C.E. were living at home year round.

In Shari (Ellis) Lovold v. Clifford Scott Ellis, 54A01-1209-DR-410, the judges affirmed the trial court’s finding that C.E. refused to participate in a relationship with his father. Thus, the trial court didn’t err when it denied Lovold’s request for Ellis to pay toward C.E.’s college expenses.

Repudiation can prevent a parent from paying college expenses, but it is not a defense to an order for child support, the COA pointed out. While a court may order college expenses and child support, living expenses for a child living on campus should be included in the educational support order.

“We hold that living expenses for a child living on campus should similarly not be included in the child support order when, as here, the child has repudiated the parent and the parent is therefore not required to contribute to the child’s post-secondary education. To hold otherwise would render repudiation no longer a complete defense to the payment of college expenses,” Chief Judge Margret Robb wrote.

“We do not adopt a bright-line rule requiring the filing of both a child support obligation worksheet and a post-secondary education support worksheet because no educational support order has been entered. But the trial court must reduce child support for the time the child will be living away from home for college.”

The judges remanded for the trial court to re-calculate the support so Ellis doesn’t pay for the time C.E. lives on campus.

 

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  1. Linda, I sure hope you are not seeking a law license, for such eighteenth century sentiments could result in your denial in some jurisdictions minting attorneys for our tolerant and inclusive profession.

  2. Mazel Tov to the newlyweds. And to those bakers, photographers, printers, clerks, judges and others who will lose careers and social standing for not saluting the New World (Dis)Order, we can all direct our Two Minutes of Hate as Big Brother asks of us. Progress! Onward!

  3. My daughter was taken from my home at the end of June/2014. I said I would sign the safety plan but my husband would not. My husband said he would leave the house so my daughter could stay with me but the case worker said no her mind is made up she is taking my daughter. My daughter went to a friends and then the friend filed a restraining order which she was told by dcs if she did not then they would take my daughter away from her. The restraining order was not in effect until we were to go to court. Eventually it was dropped but for 2 months DCS refused to allow me to have any contact and was using the restraining order as the reason but it was not in effect. This was Dcs violating my rights. Please help me I don't have the money for an attorney. Can anyone take this case Pro Bono?

  4. If justice is not found in a court room, it's time to clean house!!! Even judges are accountable to a higher Judge!!!

  5. The small claims system, based on my recent and current usage of it, is not exactly a shining example of justice prevailing. The system appears slow and clunky and people involved seem uninterested in actually serving justice within a reasonable time frame. Any improvement in accountability and performance would gain a vote from me. Speaking of voting, what do the people know about judges and justice from the bench perspective. I think they have a tendency to "vote" for judges based on party affiliation or name coolness factor (like Stoner, for example!). I don't know what to do in my current situation other than grin and bear it, but my case is an example of things working neither smoothly, effectively nor expeditiously. After this experience I'd pay more to have the higher courts hear the case -- if I had the money. Oh the conundrum.

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