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COA orders a new child support order

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of a father’s petition to modify child support. The judges held he didn’t waive his argument for modification because he made a prima facie showing he qualified for a modification under one subsection of the statute, even though he argued before the trial court that he qualified based on the other subsection.

In Brian Holtzleiter v. Angela Holtzleiter, No. 48A02-1006-DR-736, Brian Holtzleiter sought to modify his child support obligation a little more than a year after the original obligation was entered. In his petition he claimed an ongoing and substantial change in circumstances, subsection (1) under Indiana Code Section 31-16-8-1. The trial court denied the petition, finding the changes in circumstances don’t render the current support order unreasonable.

The Court of Appeals agreed with Brian that he met his burden under subsection (2) of that statute. That subsection requires that the petition for modification be at least 12 months after the order requesting to be modified or revoked was issued, and that the party has been ordered to pay an amount that differs by more than 20 percent from the amount that would be ordered by applying the child support guidelines.

Brian submitted a child support worksheet that proposed his child support obligation should now be $178.89 a week due to a change in job with a lower salary and a remarriage and new child to take care of. His current obligation was $317 a week for his two children from his marriage with Angela.

The judges went against their colleagues’ decision in Hay v. Hay, 730 N.E.2d 787, 794 (Ind. Ct. App. 2000), and ruled Brian preserved his argument on appeal. Hay held that a father waived his argument that his obligation should be modified pursuant to subsection 2 because he failed to make that argument to the trial court. In the instant case, the judges believed the trial court and opposing party have been provided with sufficient notice that Brian called into play subsection (2) by submitting his child support worksheet showing his current obligation is 20 percent more than the amount he would be ordered to pay by applying the guidelines.

“Given the bright-line test set forth in subsection (2), we can discern no basis for punishing someone with a support order that otherwise statutorily qualifies for modification simply because the party failed to utter the magic words. The Guidelines are not meant to be a trap for the unwary but are intended to lead the way to a fair result in a complicated area of law,” wrote Judge Terry Crone.

After examining the evidence, the judges reversed the denial of his petition to modify and ordered on remand for the trial court to adjust the child support order accordingly. They also agreed that Brian’s $15,000 relocation bonus and the fact that Angela’s child care expenses have increased due to her employment outside of the home should be considered in determining his child support obligation.
 

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  1. You can put your photos anywhere you like... When someone steals it they know it doesn't belong to them. And, a man getting a divorce is automatically not a nice guy...? That's ridiculous. Since when is need of money a conflict of interest? That would mean that no one should have a job unless they are already financially solvent without a job... A photographer is also under no obligation to use a watermark (again, people know when a photo doesn't belong to them) or provide contact information. Hey, he didn't make it easy for me to pay him so I'll just take it! Well heck, might as well walk out of the grocery store with a cart full of food because the lines are too long and you don't find that convenient. "Only in Indiana." Oh, now you're passing judgement on an entire state... What state do you live in? I need to characterize everyone in your state as ignorant and opinionated. And the final bit of ignorance; assuming a photo anyone would want is lucky and then how much does your camera have to cost to make it a good photo, in your obviously relevant opinion?

  2. Seventh Circuit Court Judge Diane Wood has stated in “The Rule of Law in Times of Stress” (2003), “that neither laws nor the procedures used to create or implement them should be secret; and . . . the laws must not be arbitrary.” According to the American Bar Association, Wood’s quote drives home this point: The rule of law also requires that people can expect predictable results from the legal system; this is what Judge Wood implies when she says that “the laws must not be arbitrary.” Predictable results mean that people who act in the same way can expect the law to treat them in the same way. If similar actions do not produce similar legal outcomes, people cannot use the law to guide their actions, and a “rule of law” does not exist.

  3. 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.

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