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Judges rule on 'contentious' child support dispute, again

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For the second time, a “contentious” child support dispute has come before the Indiana Court of Appeals. The judges upheld most of the obligations imposed on the father but ordered the trial court to use a different income allocation factor regarding certain bonuses.

In Matthew Banks Ashworth v. Kathryn (Ashworth) Ehrgott, 49A02-1205-DR-412, Matthew Ashworth appealed the order on modification of child support entered in favor of his ex-wife Kathryn Ehrgott. Ashworth contended that the trial court abused its discretion in calculating his 2012 and subsequent child support obligation and income withholding order; in determining his additional child support obligation based on his 2010-2012 bonuses and future irregular income; and that the court erred by declining to credit him for his overpaid child support obligations.

The couple married in 1999 and have two minor children. They divorced in 2006, with Ehrgott having sole legal and physical custody. The calculation of Ashworth’s child support obligation first came before the Court of Appeals in 2010, in which the judges remanded for recalculation of his weekly gross income and to calculate credits against his child support payments. A December 2010 modification of child support petition filed by Ehrgott led to this latest appeal.

The judges upheld the calculation of Ashworth’s 2012 and subsequently weekly child support obligation and the trial court’s use of an income allocation ratio to determine the amount of additional child support. But the court did abuse its discretion by using an irregular income factor based upon the parties’ prior financial declarations to determine Ashworth’s additional child support for his 2012 and subsequent irregular income.

The COA ordered the trial court to apply the income allocation factor of 0.1549 to his 2012 and future bonuses and correct the scrivener’s error in the April 24, 2010, income withholding order that resulted in overpayment of $8.54 per week. The trial court should calculate the credit owed to Ashworth and its repayment method.

They also held that the trial court didn’t abuse its discretion in calculating his child support obligation based on his irregular income for 2010 and 2011.

 

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