Indiana Supreme Court room
(Indianapolis, Ind.) - Hoosier parents cannot surrender parenting time to avoid paying child support, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled Tuesday.
The Indiana justices unanimously rejected a 2006 divorce settlement out of Jackson County where a father agreed to give up all parenting time in exchange for no child support.
In the ruling, Justice Steven David said every child deserves better than to be treated as nothing more than a bargaining chip.
"The concept of parents negotiating away parenting time as a means to eliminate the obligation to pay child support is repugnant and contrary to public policy," Davis stated in the opinion.
The case began with the child’s birth in August 2005, then the father seeking a divorce from the mother the following month. In a 2006 agreement, the father surrendered his parenting time rights in exchange for the mother assuming sole financial responsibility and allowing the father to pay not support. If the father ever wanted to regain parenting time, he would have to pay the amount of child support he had missed.
In 2008, the father went back to court to seek that parenting time with his daughter and to pay the arrearage in child support, per the earlier agreement. However, the court denied the request at the ex-wife’s objection.
The father successfully appealed to the state Supreme Court, whose Tuesday ruling reverses the lower court’s decision.
"It is incomprehensible to this Court to imagine that either parent would ever stipulate to give up parenting time in lieu of not paying child support," David wrote.
You can read the full Indiana Supreme Court opinion at http://www.in.gov/judiciary/opinions/pdf/06251303shd.pdf.