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Dad not in contempt for failure to pay full support

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The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed a man was not in contempt for failing to pay child support ordered by a Florida court even though the Indiana trial court enforced his obligation for less than the amount ordered in Florida.

Suzanne Hamilton appealed the Indiana trial court order in In Re the Marriage of: Suzanne Hebert Hamilton v. Richard Wayne Hamilton, No. 82A01-0804-CV-151, arguing the trial court effectively modified the Florida support order by requiring Richard Hamilton to only pay $150 a week instead of the nearly $1,500 a month as required under the Florida court order. She also believed the trial court erred by not finding Richard in contempt and requiring him to serve jail time.

Under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, Florida maintains exclusive jurisdiction to modify the Hamiltons' support order, wrote Judge Nancy Vaidik, with Indiana only able to enforce the order as the responding state. The Indiana trial court had discretion under the act to craft an enforcement mechanism to encourage Richard, who had relocated to Evansville after the divorce, to comply with the Florida order. The act also allows Indiana to determine the manner of compliance with the order.

The decision by the Indiana trial court to allow Richard to pay Suzanne $1,000, find full-time employment, and give Suzanne $150 a week or else he would be ordered to serve the 170-day sentence ordered by the Florida court, is a permissible enforcement order, wrote Judge Vaidik. The Indiana trial court didn't suspend Richard's monthly child support obligation, and every month he doesn't pay the full amount, his arrearage will grow. Also, after hearing evidence of Richard's employment and other circumstances, the trial court required him to pay the purge amount, find a job, and execute a wage assignment.

The Indiana trial court was correct in not finding Richard in contempt for failing to pay his full child support obligation and sometimes missing the required $150 payments to Suzanne, because the record shows Richard did everything required by the Indiana trial court to avoid being found in contempt, wrote Judge Vaidik.

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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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