Monday, January 12, 2009

Paternity - Paying the Birth Expenses in Indiana

I can only describe In Re: The Matter of the Paternity of D.J. (PDF format) as a bit odd. Usually, the issue of how much a father must pay for birth expenses does not come up. What gives this case its oddness is that the child was born in 2001 and how the trial court handled the issue of child support's start date:

After hearing the evidence on March 18, 2008, the trial court found that J.M.M. was D.J.’s father. The trial court also ordered J.M.M. to pay child support in the amount of $42 per week retroactive to February 16, 2008.
The Indiana Court of Appeals' opinion then describes how the trial court handled the issue of birth expenses:
At the time of the hearing, the deputy prosecutor indicated that although he did not presently have the evidence regarding the childbirth expenses that Medicaid had paid, that evidence was available and forthcoming. Nonetheless, the trial court ruled that “Father isn’t Ordered to reimburse the State . . . for birth expenses paid for by Medicaid due to the age of the child.” (citation omitted).
The opinion also sets out the statute at issue:
Proceeding to the merits of the State’s argument, we note that the payment of expenses associated with the birth of a child is governed by Indiana Code section 31-14-17-1:
(a) The court shall order the father to pay at least fifty percent (50%) of the reasonable and necessary expenses of the mother’s pregnancy and childbirth, including the cost of:
(1) prenatal care;
(2) delivery;
(3) hospitalization; and
(4) postnatal care.
And what about a time limit? The Court of Appeals wrote the following:
This court has previously held that Indiana Code section 31-14-7-1 imposes no time limitation on the recovery of birth-related expenses, provided that the paternity petition is otherwise timely filed. In the Matter of Paternity of A.J.R., 702 N.E.2d 355, 363 (Ind. Ct. App. 1998)....
Statute is clear. Case law is on point. Which leads me to this point: we have appeals because not every judge applies the law properly.

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