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Child Support Cases and News Items

June 1, 2005

United States v. Morrow, 03-10085 (United States District Court, Central District of Illinois, May 6, 2005): The Deadbeat Parents Punishment Act, 18 U.S.C. § 228, violates due process by its rebuttable mandatory presumption that the existence of a court support order means the defendant has the ability to pay, by shifting to the defendant the burden of persuasion of the crime's willfulness element. The section creating the mandatory presumption, however, could be severed from remainder of statute, as the remainder of the statute was fully operative as law without the invalid section, and Congress did not intend that the two provisions must work in tandem or not at all.

Mattingly v. Mattingly, No. 2004-CA-000314-MR (Kentucky Court of Appeals, May 13, 2005): Even though the statute provides that parents are obligated for support until the child reaches age 18, when parents agree to provide college support, and the provision is incorporated into a judgment, the provision is in the nature of child support and thus nondischargeable in bankruptcy.

D.F. v. L.T., Jr., Nos. 04-CA-1455, 04-CA-1456 (Louisiana Court of Appeals, Fifth Circuit, May 31, 2005): Breaking with the clear majority in the other states, the Louisiana court held that the father’s basic allowance for subsidies and his basic allowance for housing, paid by the United States military, were not to be included in his gross income for purposes of calculating child support.

Maschoff v. Leiding, No. A04-1757 (Minnesota Court of Appeals, May 31, 2005): Parents cannot waive child support in consideration of a certain custody arrangement. They can, however, stipulate that they have equal incomes, that they have equal custody, and thus under an application of the guidelines, neither parent owes the other parent support. That’s not a waiver, it’s an application of the guidelines.

Abellard v. Aime, 2005 N.Y. Slip Op. 04034 (New York Appellate Division, Second Department, May 16, 2005): Monetary assistance received by the father from his own father in the form of loans was includable in the father’s income for purposes of determining amount of his child support obligation.

Patrick v. Britt, No. 3992 (South Carolina Court of Appeals, May 23, 2005): Another lesson in why it’s a good idea not to be a jerk in front of the judge. The court of appeals affirmed the trial court’s imputation of income to the husband where he failed to provide the court with any meaningful representation of his actual income, failed to respond to the court’s requests for direction with anything other than patronizing remarks, and, he testified that his personal income was $66.01 per month although his company brought in over $430,000 in gross income per month.

Chen v. Warner, No. 03-0288 (Wisconsin Supreme Court, May 6, 2005): A mother’s decision to leave her employment, which paid $236,000 per year, was reasonable and she was not shirking her child support obligation, when the parties had agreed she would be available for child care, she had tried to obtain part-time employment, and she was faced with exhausting her savings without child support from the father.

News Items
(Note: News items, unlike case descriptions, contain editorial content.)

Item: Georgia has created a child support guidelines commission to collect data on the cost of raising children, which will then be used in new income shares guidelines.

Item: Alabama’s Supreme Court, which implements its state guidelines, tabled a proposed economic study that it deemed too broad.

Item: Minnesota, perennially on the cusp of adopting income shares, is one step closer; the senate passed the income shares model.

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