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Thursday, February 22, 2007

Ind. Courts - Indiana Supreme Court issues decision on child support while in prison

In Lambert v. Lambert, an 11-page opinion, Chief Justice Shepard writes:

When appellant Jeffrey Lambert and his former wife were about to be divorced, it was already apparent that Lambert was soon headed for prison. The trial court issued a child support order based on Lambert’s wages from his existing private employment. It was appropriate to base support after release on that rate of income, and thus place the burden on Lambert to establish after his release, through petition to modify, that his income might be lower than it had been before his conviction. While our Child Support Guidelines obligate every parent to provide some support even when they have no apparent present income, it was error to set support based on employment income that plainly would not be there during incarceration. * * *

Here, the court was justified in predicting that the obligor might re-attain something like his pre-incarceration income – and placing on the obligor the burden to petition for a modification. Ordering that same support during incarceration was error, however, unless there were other means (like the obligor’s income derived from rental properties and his portion of the property division) to meet it. The record here suggests that such means might exist in this case. We affirm the trial court’s support order as respects the period after Lambert’s incarceration and remand for entry of such current amount as reflects Lambert’s actual present resources.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 22, 2007 04:46 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions