Trial Court Erred when Child Support Arrearange Calculation Failed to Credit Intercepted Money from Father’s Bank Account

Case: In re the Paternity of D.M.Y., et al., M.R. v. B.Y.
Case Summary by Mike Kohlhaas, Bingham Greenebaum Doll

HELD: Indiana Supreme Court holds that trial court erred in a child support arrearage calculation when its calculation failed to credit Father for $7,025 that was intercepted from Father’s bank account and disbursed to Mother.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
In 1999, Father’s paternity of two children was established, and he was ordered to pay support of $146/wk. In 2010, the trial court determined a support arrearage of $21,337. The trial court further released $15,000 to Mother that had been attached from Father’s bank account.

In 2011, another $7,025 was intercepted from Father’s bank account and, again, disbursed to Mother — but not until early 2012.

Father subsequently moved to determine his arrearage. At a hearing, there was an issue over a summary exhibit that purported to calculate Father’s arrearage as of December 31, 2011. Father objected that the exhibit was inaccurate because, while it was accurate as to December 31, 2011, it did not credit Father for the $7,025 that was released to Mother in early 2012. Nevertheless, after the hearing, the trial court found Father to be in arrears of $6,483 as of December 31, 2011 – technically correct, but it did not credit Father for the $7,025 released to Mother prior to the hearing.

Mother later sought to have Father held in contempt. Following another hearing, the trial court found Father’s arrearage to then be $13,055 as of the hearing, a sum which, again, did not credit Father for the $7,205 attachment. Father appealed, but the Court of Appeals, in a 2-1 memorandum decision, affirmed the trial court’s order.

After granting transfer, the Indiana Supreme Court largely adopted Judge Robb’s dissent in the Court of Appeals opinion, concluding that the arrearage was miscalculated by the trial court. The Court rejected Mother’s argument that Father’s appeal was untimely because he should have appealed the prior order that did not credit him $7,025. The Court noted that, technically speaking, that order was correct because it calculated an arrearage as of December 31, 2011, and, thus, Father had nothing to appeal after that order.

The trial court’s order was reversed, and remanded with instructions to credit Father $7,025 in its arrearage calculation.

To view the text of this opinion in its entirety, click here: In re the Paternity of D.M.Y., et al., M.R. v. B.Y.

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James A. Reed and Michael R. Kohlhaas of Bingham Greenebaum Doll represent clients in a wide spectrum of relationship transition and wealth planning matters, including premarital agreements, estate planning, cohabitation, separation, divorce (especially involving high net worth individuals and/or complex asset issues), custody, parenting arrangements, adoption, and domestic partnerships. Bingham Greenebaum Doll, a multidisciplinary law firm serving regional, national, and international clients, is the fourth-largest law firm in Indiana. The firm’s main practices include corporate, property, litigation, labor, government law, and personal services law. Visit the firm’s website at www.bgdlegal.com.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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