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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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