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State can increase withholding without order

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The Indiana Court of Appeals examined the state's code regarding the limits of a withholding amount in child support arrearage, and acknowledged that its interpretation of the statute allowing the state to increase the amount without a court order "may cause some concern."

In the case In Re: The paternity of A.M.P., State of Indiana v. Curtis Price, No. 71A04-0806-JV-337, the state appealed the trial court order granting its motion to correct error. The order contained a provision that prevented the state from withholding additional amounts from Curtis Price's paycheck to satisfy an arrearage unless the state had the trial court enter a new order to authorize the withholding.

At issue is whether the provision in the order is inconsistent with federal and state laws governing Title IV-D income withholding procedures.

Although the order is technically favorable to the state, the order interpreted Indiana Code Section 31-16-15-2.5(f) as prohibiting the state from "increasing the weekly amount withheld by Income Withholding Order without further court order," wrote Judge Margret Robb. The interpretation was based on construing the clause "unless otherwise ordered by a court" in subsection (f) as allowing the trial court to limit the state's authority to increase the weekly withholding amount to satisfy an arrearage.

This interpretation is a prima facie error, the appellate court concluded after examining Indiana's code and the federal provisions relating to child support withholding orders under the federal Social Security Act. Part of a provision states that "such withholding must occur without the need for any amendment to the support order involved or for any further action by the court...which issued the order."

"We think these provisions counsel against interpreting Indiana Code section 31-16-15-2.5(f) in a manner that requires judicial authorization before the State may increase the withholding amount to satisfy an arrearage," wrote Judge Robb.

The Court of Appeals interpreted the clause "unless otherwise ordered by a court" to merely refer to a trial court's authority under I.C. Section 31-16-15-2.5(g) to allow the trial court to disregard the limitations of (1) through (7) of subsection (f), and not as preventing the state from increasing such amounts on its own initiative.

"We recognize our interpretation may cause some concern, as it permits the State to forego judicial authorization before increasing the withholding amount, but the statute itself limits the withholding amount. ... and the State is required to send the obligor a notice of intent to withhold income before withholding occurs," wrote the judge. In addition, the federal code provides for a maximum "ceiling" for arrearage withholding.

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  1. 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.

  2. 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.

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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