Reversal: Trial court erred in vacating agreed paternity order

July 16, 2015

A Hendricks County trial court erred by disregarding a mother and father’s agreed paternity order, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday, sending the matter back to the trial court. The court affirmed a judgment against father to pay mother’s attorney fees.

“Concluding the trial court did not abuse its discretion in its determination regarding attorney’s fees, we affirm that part of the trial court’s order. However, concluding the trial court applied an incorrect legal standard to the determination of child support and that its judgment regarding child care expenses is unsupported by the evidence, we reverse and remand in part,” Judge Margret Robb wrote in In re the Paternity of M.R.A. and L.R.C.: M.A. v. B.C., 32A01-1409-JP-386.

Under the parents’ agreement, father and mother shared parenting time and neither was to pay child support. Mother provided child care at times while father worked. She lived with her parents, working about four hours a week.

“The issue of child support had been initially determined by the 2013 Order, and any change thereafter needed to be considered under the modification standard.  The trial court therefore committed an error of law in ... its August 2014 order by applying the initial determination standard and ordering Father to pay child support dating back to the physical separation of the parties," Robb wrote. "The trial court should have applied the modification standard to the issue of child support and could relate such modification back only to the date Mother filed her petition to modify."

The panel also found evidence did not support a finding that child care expenses mother incurred were reasonable or work-related.

The case is remanded to the trial court for proceedings.



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