Sunday, November 23, 2008

When Does Child Support End in Indiana, Part 2

I wrote part one almost two years ago under the title When does child support end in Indiana?. An recent case from the Indiana Court of Appeals points out two other grounds. While Johnson v. McNeece cannot be used for precedent, it does provide us with the law which can be used as precedent:

Subject to two narrow exceptions, court orders for child support remain effective until a court changes them. Whited v. Whited, 859 N.E.2d 657, 662 (Ind. 2007). Retroactive modification is permitted when: (1) the parties have agreed to and carried out an alternative method of payment which substantially complies with the spirit of the decree, or (2) the obligated parent takes the child into his or her home, assumes custody, provides necessities, and exercises parental control for a period of time such that a permanent change of custody is made. Id. In these situations, the welfare of the child, which is the objective of child support, has not been disregarded. See, e.g., Smith v. Smith, 793 N.E.2d 282 (Ind. Ct. App. 2003). Accordingly, in some rare circumstances, we have recognized that the conduct of the parties with respect to a custodial agreement may create an implied contract. In re Paternity of P.W.J., 846 N.E.2d 752, 760 (Ind. Ct. App. 2006), clarified on rehearing, 850 N.E.2d 1024, (citing Smith, 793 N.E.2d at 285). An implied contract is equally as binding as a written or express contract. Id.
Many years ago, I was a public defender in our Title IV-D Court. The client was looking at a 460,000.00 child support arrears. What no one from the prosecutor's office had known was that the mother had left the children with father for about six years. The arrears dropped about 90% when the judge found this out.

From this learn not to change custody without a court order - even if it is by agreement. It is a good deal less expensive than not following procedure.

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