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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. Hysteria? Really Ben? Tell the young lady reported on in the link below that worrying about the sexualizing of our children is mere hysteria. Such thinking is common in the Royal Order of Jesters and other running sex vacays in Thailand or Brazil ... like Indy's Jared Fogle. Those tempted to call such concerns mere histronics need to think on this: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/a-12-year-old-girl-live-streamed-her-suicide-it-took-two-weeks-for-facebook-to-take-the-video-down/ar-AAlT8ka?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=spartanntp

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  3. This is happening so much. Even in 2016.2017. I hope the father sue for civil rights violation. I hope he sue as more are doing and even without a lawyer as pro-se, he got a good one here. God bless him.

  4. JLAP and other courtiers ... Those running court systems, have most substance abuse issues. Probably self medicating to cover conscience issues arising out of acts furthering govt corruption

  5. I whole-heartedly agree with Doug Church's comment, above. Indiana lawyers were especially fortunate to benefit from Tom Pyrz' leadership and foresight at a time when there has been unprecedented change in the legal profession. Consider how dramatically computer technology and its role in the practice of law have changed over the last 25 years. The impact of the great recession of 2008 dramatically changed the composition and structure of law firms across the country. Economic pressures altered what had long been a routine, robust annual recruitment process for law students and recent law school graduates. That has, in turn, impacted law school enrollment across the country, placing upward pressure on law school tuition. The internet continues to drive significant changes in the provision of legal services in both public and private sectors. The ISBA has worked to make quality legal representation accessible and affordable for all who need it and to raise general public understanding of Indiana laws and procedures. How difficult it would have been to tackle each of these issues without Tom's leadership. Tom has set the tone for positive change at the ISBA to meet the evolving practice needs of lawyers of all backgrounds and ages. He has led the organization with vision, patience, flexibility, commitment, thoughtfulness & even humor. He will, indeed, be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Tom, for all you've done and all the energy you've invested in making the ISBA an excellent, progressive, highly responsive, all-inclusive, respectful & respected professional association during his tenure there.

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