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Judges disagree on retroactive support issue

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In a matter of first impression, a panel of Indiana Court of Appeals judges couldn't agree on whether an initial support order can be retroactive to a date preceding the filing of a petition for resolution. The judges disagreed as to whether a court has the authority to reach into an intact marriage and order a party to pay child support to the other.

In In re the marriage of Raymond Boone v. Tammy Boone, No. 45A03-0906-CV-243, the majority concluded Indiana courts don't have the authority to order a parent to pay some form of child support during a time when the parties' marriage was still intact in the eyes of the law. Judges Ezra Friedlander and Cale Bradford interpreted the silence in the Indiana Child Support guidelines prohibiting retroactive payment of child support in a case like this to mean the Indiana legislature didn't intend for retroactive child support predating the filing of a dissolution decree because the legislature had demonstrated the ability to authorize retroactive child support in other areas.

Judge Edward Najam, however, interpreted the silence to mean nothing prohibits the ordering of payment of the retroactive child support.

"Given the robust approach our legislature has taken to ensure that all children are supported adequately by their parents until the age of majority, I cannot imagine that the legislature intended for married parents to be granted a full reprieve from their child support obligations simply because they are married," he wrote.

Retroactive modification of child support is prohibited except where explicitly authorized and can relate back in a time only to the filing of the request for it, except in paternity actions, wrote Judge Friedlander. In dissolution actions, the courts get involved when the petition is filed and prior to this it has no jurisdiction to issue orders pertaining to matters involving children except in neglect or abuse cases.

But Judge Najam countered that courts routinely delve into the facts and circumstances of a marriage as they existed prior to filing for dissolution. "Intact marriage" isn't defined in the law and it means uninjured. But the Boone marriage wasn't intact as they were living apart for several years, and Raymond stopped paying non-court-ordered child support before he filed for dissolution, wrote Judge Najam.

The majority ruling won't immunize deadbeat parents, as Judge Najam supposes, wrote Judge Friedlander.

"To the contrary, our holding in no way diminishes or abrogates the common-law duty of support, nor does it diminish the means by which the State or custodial parents may compel a recalcitrant or neglectful parent to fulfill that duty," he wrote. "Rather, we merely decline to add a means of imposing a support arrearage, for that is exactly what the rule proposed and embraced by the dissent would accomplish."

The majority reversed the portion of the Boones' dissolution order that required Raymond pay child support retroactive to the date the dissolution was filed. The case was remanded with instructions to modify the support order consistent with the opinion.

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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