ILNews

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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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