Friday, August 31, 2007

Grant v. hager: Child support and parenting time

I count myself as being truly tardy in not reporting on Grant v. Hager (PDF format). The Indiana Supreme Court reviewed the situation where the parenting time credit could result in the custodial parent paying child support to the custodial parent. Mother argued that instead of a custodial parent paying support to the non-custodial parent, there should be no child support order. The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with custodial parent That opinion is here.

The Indiana Supreme Court issued an opinion that lawyers are too familiar with: the sidestep. The Indiana Supreme Court reversed the trial court but did not give us a bright line rule on the issue. The Indiana Supreme Court held it is correct that the Child Support Guidelines do not authorize the non-custodial parent paying the custodial parent and the Guidelines create a rebuttable presumption of an order of no support. The Indiana Supreme Court's analysis ended with the following:

Given this deviation authority, a court could order a custodial parent to pay child support to a non-custodial parent based on their respective incomes and parenting time arrangements if the court had concluded that it would be unjust not to do so and the court had made the written finding mandated by Child. Supp. R. 3. The dissolution court's conclusion here may very well be supportable on this basis but the court did not make the required findings here, apparently believing instead that the Guidelines themselves authorized it to order Grant to pay child support to Hager. We remand this matter to the dissolution court for reconsideration in accordance with the principles enunciated in this decision.
So another appeal may be needed before we get a definitive decision. I do know a judge or two who find the idea of support going from non-custodial parent to custodial parent ridiculous and are quite willing to deny any such request. However, I read this opinion as saying a flat ban creates an appealable order. It seems that if a judge were to make the proper findings of no support, there ought to be less to appeal (that being whether or not the findings are supported by the facts).

No comments: