ILNews

Court denies request for emancipation, child support change

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In deciding whether a father's child support requirement should be modified or ended, the Indiana Court of Appeals refused to adopt new reasoning that any child attending college could be deemed emancipated if that child didn't live in the custodial parent's home.

The unanimous ruling came in Nevin Tew v. Beverly Tew, No. 02A03-0911-CV-529, which affirmed a judgment out of Allen Superior Judge Charles Pratt and Magistrate Lori Morgan's courtroom.

The father appealed the trial court's order denying his 2009 petition seeking a declaration that M.T., his then-18-year-old daughter born in 1986, be emancipated or alternatively that his child support obligation be modified. The Tews had been married between 1982 and 2003, and the mother was awarded custody of M.T. while the father had parenting time and child support payments. The custody arrangement changed in 2005 and the father received custody of the youngest daughter, though the mom later regained custody. Over time, communication between that daughter and the father dwindled.

A year ago, the father filed a petition saying he should no longer be obligated to pay child support for M.T. because she should be deemed emancipated or that she'd repudiated her relationship with him. The older daughter had previously been emancipated, but her status wasn't at issue in the case.

Analyzing the emancipation law provisions in Indiana Code Section 30-16-6-6(a)(3) and (b)(3), the appellate court affirmed the lower ruling and found the trial court didn't err in either denying the father's request to modify the child support obligation or determining that M.T. hadn't repudiated her relationship with the father for emancipation.

The trial court record specifically showed evidence that the father-daughter relationship was still intact, the appellate panel decided.

But the father had specifically argued that she wasn't under the control of either parent because she lived in an apartment with her boyfriend while enrolled full-time in community college. Though M.T. had a part-time job, the trial court determined that she wasn't capable of supporting herself without the parents' help - the mother paid M.T.'s share of the rent and car insurance, as well as school supplies and medication. The father argued that M.T. should have to live with her mother, and that might reduce the need for the existing child support payment level.

Denying that argument, the appellate judges wrote in a footnote, "We note that were we to accept Father's claim in this regard, we would set precedent that any child who attended a post-secondary education institution, whether said institution be near the custodial parent's home or hours away, could be deemed emancipated if the child did not reside in the parent's home. Clearly this is not the legislature's intent."

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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