ILNews

Judges differ on day-care credit, child support

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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An Indiana Court of Appeals panel disagrees about whether or not a parent who uses day care when he or she isn't working is entitled to a child-support tax credit.

In Craig Cross v. Victoria Cross, No. 49A05-0802-CV-94, authoring Judge Elaine Brown and Judge Paul Mathias ruled the trial court erred in ordering father Craig Cross to pay $30 more a week to pay for Victoria Cross' work-related day care for their adult child with autism. At issue is whether or not the day-care expenses claimed by Victoria were incurred in connection with her employment.

Victoria worked as a health-care provider for a patient with Alzheimer's and would bring her daughter V.E.C. with her to work, but she paid a neighbor $30 a week to watch V.E.C. for five hours so Victoria could be relieved of her constant supervision of her daughter.

The majority found Victoria's day-care expense isn't work-related or income-producing, so it doesn't fall within the provisions of the Child Support Guidelines. As a result, Craig shouldn't be responsible for paying for the day care, Judge Brown wrote.

If the trial court would have entered a written finding as to why it deviated from the Child Support Guidelines, then the day-care cost could have been credited to Victoria, the appellate court determined. But because the trial court didn't, the majority reversed the order crediting her for work-related day care.

But Chief Judge John G. Baker adopted Victoria's argument as to why she should receive a work-related day-care credit and quoted from her brief that giving her a break during the week gives her respite "necessary to handle both the duties at her job and the responsibilities she has as [her daughter's] full-time caregiver."

He believed the majority's adoption of the Child Support Guidelines was overly literal and that the child-care cost was work related because a brief, weekly break allowed Victoria to continue to work and receive an income, he wrote.

All three judges affirmed the trial court's grant of Victoria's motion to withdraw admissions, its exclusion of V.E.C.'s Supplemental Security Income from its determination of Craig's child-support obligation, and its denial of Craig's petition to claim the children for tax-exemption purposes.
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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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