Saturday, March 17, 2007

Defining Child Support in Indiana

A few weeks back I had an unsolicited e-mail stating that he was he as looking for a definition of child support. He complained that no one - no judges, no lawyers - gave him a definition. He wanted to overthrow Indiana's child support Guidelines on a definition. I do not recall answering his e-mail.

I suspect that anyone else getting this e-mail or being asked this question had a similar set of reactions: a smidgen of amusement at asking the wrong question, a bit of consternation about there not being a definition, and a whole lot of disdain for a man not wanting to support his children.

"Child support" remains undefined because the term needing defined is not "child support" but "child support obligation." Being a parent creates an obligation to economically support one's children. Divorce quantifies that obligation into a "child support payment" or "child support." Child support payments derive from the process contained in Indiana's Child Support Guidelines.

One might want to consider the implications of the following passages.

This from Bales v. Bales, 801 N.E.2d 196, 199 (Ind. Ct. App. 2004), trans. denied.:

In contrast, parents have a common law duty to support their children. Matter of S.T., 621 N.E.2d 371, 373 (Ind. Ct. App. 1993). This duty exists apart from any court order or statute. Id. A parent’s obligation to pay child support generally continues until the child reaches twenty-one years of age. Cure, 767 N.E.2d at 1001 (quoting Lea v. Lea, 691 N.E.2d 1214, 1215 (Ind. 1998) (“‘[A] parent’s child support obligation terminates when a child is emancipated or reaches age 21, except in certain circumstances.’”))....

And this from In re the Matter of Hambright:
In Lizak [Lizak v. Schultz, 496 N.E.2d 40, 42 (Ind. 1986)], this Court held that the representative of the estate of a deceased custodial parent was entitled to recover child support arrearages without proving the amount of money that had been spent on the children. In discussing the nature of child support, citing cases dating from 1865, we noted:
The description of the children’s custodian as a trustee has distant origins in our law. Early cases seem to use this term to differentiate alimony, paid to the former spouse for her benefit, from child support, payable to the custodian of the child, regardless of whether the custodian is a parent or not. It has been used to describe the relationship between child and custodian and the obligation of the latter to seek enforcement of the support order. It has not been used to permit the non-paying parent to avoid the obligation of a support order.

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