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Justices slam agreement to no parenting time, no child support

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The Indiana Supreme Court had harsh words Tuesday for parents and attorneys who enter into agreements that stipulate giving up parenting time in lieu of paying child support. There must be extraordinary circumstances to justify denying parenting time.

“The concept of parents negotiating away parenting time as a means to eliminate the obligation to pay child support is repugnant and contrary to public policy. Attorneys should refuse to be a part of such discussion and should advise their clients that any such discussion is unacceptable,” Justice Steven David wrote in Michael D. Perkinson, Jr. v. Kay Char Perkinson, 36S05-1206-DR-371.

When Michael D. Perkinson and Kay Char Perkinson divorced in February 2006, they entered into an agreement in which Michael Perkinson would waive his parenting time rights to daughter L.P. in exchange for Kay Perkinson assuming sole financial responsibility and waiving enforcement of the father’s child support arrearage. If he sought parenting time in the future, he would have to pay any arrearage through the date of the approval.

Beginning two years later, father sought modification of parenting time, but each petition was denied by the trial court. The Court of Appeals reversed and remanded.

“It is incomprehensible to this Court to imagine that either parent would ever stipulate to give up parenting time in lieu of not paying child support,” David wrote. “Just as allowing an agreement purporting to contract away a child’s right to support must be held void, an agreement to contract away a child’s right to parenting time, where the presumption that such parenting time is in the child’s best interest has not been defeated, must also be held void as a matter of public policy. Every child deserves better than to be treated as nothing more than a bargaining chip.”

Extraordinary circumstances must exist to deny parenting time to a parent, which necessarily denies the same to the child. Looking at the case before them, mother didn’t offer any evidence, such as therapist reports or expert testimony to show that parenting time between her ex-husband and L.P. would not be in the child’s best interest. The only evidence regarding endangerment was the testimony of the mother.

The trial court has many tools at its disposal, such as ordering phased-in professionally guided supervised visitation at father’s expense or the appointment of a GAL or CASA to investigate and make recommendations to the court.

The case is remanded for more proceedings.

 

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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