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Non-custodial parent must still pay arrearages to cover funeral expenses

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An emancipated child will be able to collect child support arrearages to pay for her custodial parent’s funeral but she and her sibling will not be allowed to accept the remainder of the accrued support payments, ruled the Indiana Court of Appeals.

When Dean Buchanan died, his ex-wife Debra Roop owed about $9,400 in child support payments. The trial court granted the oldest child Tina Buchanan’s request that she be allowed to collect the arrearages to cover the expenses of her father’s funeral and that the rest of the money be divided between her sibling and herself.

Roop appealed, asserting the trial court abused its discretion when it ordered her to continue to make payments toward her child support arrearage even though the recipient was deceased. Because no estate has been established, the court improperly earmarked the support arrearage to pay for Dean Buchanan’s funeral expenses that had been incurred by the adult child.

In Debra A. Roop v. Dean A. Buchanan, 88A01-1304-DR-171, the Court of Appeals concluded the trial court properly ordered Roop to pay the accrued child support obligation to cover the funeral costs.

The COA pointed out that Dean Buchanan likely could not save for his funeral because he had to use his own money to offset any deficit caused by Roop’s unpaid child support while the children were minors. Now, since Tina Buchanan has to assume the funeral costs, the Court of Appeals did not find that the lower court abused its discretion.

However, the appellate court did reverse the award of the arrearages leftover after the funeral expenses are paid to the emancipated children. It ruled in the absence of an estate, the trial court abused its discretion in allowed the siblings to receive the rest of the unpaid debt.

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  2. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  3. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  4. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  5. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

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