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Court examines statute about paternity, child support

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The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled on a matter of first impression today, analyzing a specific state statute relating to how a court can cancel child support arrearage after a man’s paternity is vacated based on new genetic testing.

In the case of In Re Paternity of D.L., C.L. v. Y.B., No. 88A01-1002-JP-224, the appellate panel unanimously reversed a decision by Washington Circuit Judge Robert Bennett involving a man’s paternity and child support arrangement for a child born in 1993 out of wedlock.

The mother, Y.B., had brought a paternity action against C.L. a few years after the child’s birth and he admitted to being the father, putting in motion the child support arrangement for both D.L. and a younger brother. They shared financial costs of raising both children and the mother maintained regular visitation, and eventually when there was some modification of custody and child support they agreed to genetic testing that determined C.L. wasn’t actually D.L.’s biological father.

At the time, D.L. owed about $9,000 in child support arrearage and he argued that the trial court should allow him to be relieved of that amount. The mother, represented by the prosecutor and ultimately the Indiana Attorney General’s Office, argued that this would constitute a retroactive modification of child support. The trial court declined to grant relief based on that.

On appeal, the state cited Indiana Code 31-16-16-6 that provides courts generally do not have authority to retroactively modify an obligor’s duty to pay a delinquent child support payment. But the appellate court disagreed with that being a fair characterization of D.L.’s request, and it instead looked to IC 31-14-11-23 – a statute that no Indiana appellate court has applied since its inception in 1994. That statute says a man’s child support obligation and any arrearage terminates if a court vacates his paternity based on fraud or mistake of fact.

Neither party cited that statute in this appeal, but the appellate panel found it clearly supports its determination to reverse the trial judge and terminate C.L.’s arrearage for D.L.

The appellate panel noted that the record in this case shows the trial judge was concerned about the parents “stumbling” across the new paternity findings, and that issue was one dealt with in a previous line of cases beginning with Fairrow v. Fairrow, 559 N.E. 2d 597, 600 (Ind. 1990). But that Fairrow ruling came down before the addition of IC 31-14-11-23 in 1994, and so it involves a different paternity issue than the one challenged here.

Since this decision doesn’t affect C.L.’s obligation to pay the child support arrearage relating to the younger brother, the appellate panel remanded the case so the trial court can calculate the amount C.L. owes there.
 

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  • paternity fraud
    Could it be that the courts are unwilling to modify or vacate child suport awards in cases of paternity fraud is the loss of income to the state under the Child Support Performance Incentive Act?

    Suggested reading - http://true-equality.110mb.com/reports/CSPIA_Abuses_Report.pdf
  • Mom's crime
    This is a victory for mens rights. Women who knowingly accuse/claim men to the fathers when they obviously know differently (or at least know of the possiblilty there of)should be arrested for fraud, and extorsion. The sad thing is that innocent children suffer from the misdeeds of their mother

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  1. Bill Satterlee is, indeed, a true jazz aficionado. Part of my legal career was spent as an associate attorney with Hoeppner, Wagner & Evans in Valparaiso. Bill was instrumental (no pun intended) in introducing me to jazz music, thereby fostering my love for this genre. We would, occasionally, travel to Chicago on weekends and sit in on some outstanding jazz sessions at Andy's on Hubbard Street. Had it not been for Bill's love of jazz music, I never would have had the good fortune of hearing it played live at Andy's. And, most likely, I might never have begun listening to it as much as I do. Thanks, Bill.

  2. The child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  3. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  4. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  5. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

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