ILNews

Court denies request for emancipation, child support change

Back to TopE-mailPrintBookmark and Share

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."

ADVERTISEMENT

Sponsored by
ADVERTISEMENT
Subscribe to Indiana Lawyer
  1. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  2. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  3. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

  4. If it were your child that died maybe you'd be more understanding. Most of us don't have graves to visit. My son was killed on a state road and I will be putting up a memorial where he died. It gives us a sense of peace to be at the location he took his last breath. Some people should be more understanding of that.

  5. Can we please take notice of the connection between the declining state of families across the United States and the RISE OF CPS INVOLVEMENT??? They call themselves "advocates" for "children's rights", however, statistics show those children whom are taken from, even NEGLIGENT homes are LESS likely to become successful, independent adults!!! Not to mention the undeniable lack of respect and lack of responsibility of the children being raised today vs the way we were raised 20 years ago, when families still existed. I was born in 1981 and I didn't even ever hear the term "CPS", in fact, I didn't even know they existed until about ten years ago... Now our children have disagreements between friends and they actually THREATEN EACH OTHER WITH, "I'll call CPS" or "I'll have [my parent] (usually singular) call CPS"!!!! And the truth is, no parent is perfect and we all have flaws and make mistakes, but it is RIGHTFULLY OURS - BY THE CONSTITUTION OF THIS GREAT NATION - to be imperfect. Let's take a good look at what kind of parenting those that are stealing our children are doing, what kind of adults are they producing? WHAT ACTUALLY HAPPENS TO THE CHILDREN THAT HAVE BEEN RIPPED FROM THEIR FAMILY AND THAT CHILD'S SUCCESS - or otherwise - AS AN ADULT.....

ADVERTISEMENT