Child support order remanded for further overpayment inquiry

The date of a daughter’s surgeries was overlooked by a trial court in determining whether a father had met his child support obligation, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday, remanding the case.

The case of Jason L. Hill v. Jessica L. Cox, and Vigo County Child Support Office, 19A-DR-2701, involves a lump-sum payment of retroactive benefits after Jason Hill qualified for Social Security disability benefits, which caught up a child support arrearage that Hill owed to his ex-wife, Jessica Cox. The arrearage included Hill’s share of some his daughter’s uninsured medical debts.

“However, the trial court refused to consider whether to apply the remaining surplus of $1,906.63 from the lump sum payment as a credit against the medical expenses for Daughter’s two hip surgeries in 2018,” Judge Melissa May wrote for the panel, finding the Vigo Superior Court erred in not determining when the debts were incurred. The panel remanded for a hearing to determine this and issue a new order accordingly.

“The trial court did not determine whether any of those surgical expenses were incurred before May 14, 2018, such that they would have been ‘an existing child support arrearage’ to which the lump sum payment ‘shall be applied.’ … If any of those expenses accrued before of the lump sum payment, then the $1,906.63 overpayment must be credited toward payment of that ‘existing child support arrearage,’” May wrote. “… Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s declaration that the $1,906.63 surplus from the lump sum payment was a gift from Father to Daughter, and we remand for the trial court to determine when in 2018 Daughter incurred medical expenses and to apply the surplus as a credit toward any medical expenses that existed as of May 14, 2018.

“… If none of Daughter’s uninsured medical expenses in 2018 accrued before May 14, then the $1,906.63 surplus may again be denominated a gift from Father to Daughter. If only some of those expenses in 2018 accrued before May 14, then after those expenses are paid from the lump sum, any remaining money is a gift from Father to Daughter,” the judge concluded.

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