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COA affirms reduction of incarcerated father’s child support obligation

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A trial court did not abuse its discretion by reducing a father’s child support and arrearage to an absolute minimum level after he requested review of his obligation, the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed Friday. The man, who is incarcerated, claimed the court did not consider his income or needs when making the reduction.

David Hooker has two children with his ex-wife and was ordered to pay $8 a week in child support. Hooker was incarcerated when the marriage was dissolved. Three years later, he asked for review of his child support obligation. Neither he nor his ex-wife attended the hearing on the matter.

The state requested – and the trial court agreed – that Hooker’s support should be reduced to $1 a week, with an additional $3 a week going toward his accrued arrearage. Once he is released from prison – which likely won’t be until 2035, his support will revert back to $8 per week, the court ruled.

Hooker appealed, claiming the trial court didn’t consider his income or needs when imposing the weekly sum. Judge Patricia Riley pointed out that even in situations where the noncustodial parent has no income, courts have routinely established a child support obligation at some minimum level.

The child support arrearage must be satisfied and the $55 yearly fee collected by the clerk of the court is a mandatory fee that cannot be deducted from his child support payments.

“As such, David’s support payment and arrearage—as minimal as they are—are transmitted integrally to the minor children. Mindful that David has an obligation to his children, we cannot conclude that the trial abused its discretion by reducing his child support and arrearage to an absolute minimum level,” Riley wrote in David Hooker v. Shari Hooker, 82A04-1311-DR-592.

Also, the judges rejected Hooker’s claim that his due process rights were violated when the trial court did not order him transported to the hearing or otherwise make an attempt to secure his presence. A prisoner involved in a civil lawsuit unrelated to the case resulting in incarceration has no right to a transport order, Riley pointed out. But Hooker never filed a motion to request his attendance by video or telephonic conferencing, never asked for the appointment of a guardian ad litem to represent his interest, nor did he submit his case by documentary evidence.
 

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  1. 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.

  2. 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?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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