ILNews

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. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

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  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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