Saturday, December 29, 2007

Child Support: What Happens When All Your Wages Go to Child Support

The Indiana Court of Appeals answered that question in White v. White (PDF). Calling the facts in White odd, is not an understatement.

  1. The parties were divorced in 1994.
  2. The Dissolution Decree provided that Mark was obligated to pay child support, but did not recite an amount.
  3. The Income Withholding Order read: "'The amount you are required to withhold represents the current weekly support obligation of $266.00 per week.'"
  4. This amounted to approximately 33% of Mark’s gross pay.
  5. On December 11, 2006, the trial court entered an order determining that Mark’s child support arrearage, as of November 1, 2006, was $88,265.00 (with $10,181.00 owed to the State and $78,084.00 owed to Carol.) The arrearage was calculated based upon the premise that Mark owed $266.00 per week beginning April 29, 1994 until the amount was modified on January 13, 2005.
Father claimed a clerical error and Mother/State of Indiana argued Father attempted a retroactive mofification of child support. Father won, or maybe common-sense won. I do have one problem with one part of Father's argument, but more on that later. First, the points that lead to Father win:
  1. "Neither the Guidelines nor statutory authority contemplate the tender of virtually all of one parent’s income as child support, regardless of the number of children."
  2. "Moreover, an income withholding order is not to be utilized to deprive an obligor of his or her means of self-support. Indiana Code Section 31-16-15-8 [see former I.C. 31-2-10-9 and 10] provides for notice to an obligor that a child support withholding order is subject to the provisions of 15 U.S.C. § 1673(b)."
That Father did nothing about 67% of his pay going to child support bothers me. Mind, this Income Withholding Order ran for over ten years. The following paragraphs shows how the Court of Appeals dealt with this part of Father's argument:
Finally, the trial court’s determination that Mark knew he was ordered to pay $266.00 weekly is contrary to the evidence of record. Mark testified that he did not receive a copy of the wage withholding order. Carol testified that she never objected that she was receiving less than the court-ordered amount of child support. It defies logic to infer that had Mark known he was ordered to pay virtually all his disposable salary as child support, he would have merely acquiesced.

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