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. Poor Judge Brown probably thought that by slavishly serving the godz of the age her violations of 18th century concepts like due process and the rule of law would be overlooked. Mayhaps she was merely a Judge ahead of her time?

  2. in a lawyer discipline case Judge Brown, now removed, was presiding over a hearing about a lawyer accused of the supposedly heinous ethical violation of saying the words "Illegal immigrant." (IN re Barker) http://www.in.gov/judiciary/files/order-discipline-2013-55S00-1008-DI-429.pdf .... I wonder if when we compare the egregious violations of due process by Judge Brown, to her chiding of another lawyer for politically incorrectness, if there are any conclusions to be drawn about what kind of person, what kind of judge, what kind of apparatchik, is busy implementing the agenda of political correctness and making off-limits legit advocacy about an adverse party in a suit whose illegal alien status is relevant? I am just asking the question, the reader can make own conclsuion. Oh wait-- did I use the wrong adjective-- let me rephrase that, um undocumented alien?

  3. of course the bigger questions of whether or not the people want to pay for ANY bussing is off limits, due to the Supreme Court protecting the people from DEMOCRACY. Several decades hence from desegregation and bussing plans and we STILL need to be taking all this taxpayer money to combat mostly-imagined "discrimination" in the most obviously failed social program of the postwar period.

  4. 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?

  5. 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.

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