Turner v. Turner, No. 85A02-1208-DR-704,___ N.E.2d ___ (Ind. Ct. App., Feb. 28, 2013).

Pyle, J.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

David L. Turner (“Father”) appeals the trial court’s post-dissolution order denying his petition—which he filed based upon the legislature’s July 1, 2012 amendment to Indiana Code § 31-16-6-6—to terminate child support for his nineteen-year-old child.

We reverse and remand.

….

Father contends that the amendment to Indiana Code § 31-16-6-6, which decreased the age for termination of child support from twenty-one to nineteen, controlled the issue of whether his child support should be terminated for his nineteen-year-old Son. [Footnote omitted.] We agree.

The legislature, which sets policy, determined that the age at which a parent is no longer obligated to pay child support should be reduced from twenty-one to nineteen and then amended the law accordingly. See Skelton v. State, 90 N.E. 897, 173 Ind. 462 (Ind. 1910) (the legislature determines public policy of the State, and, when it has declared a policy in plain terms, it is the duty of the courts to give it effect). Based on the legislature’s amendment, Father filed a petition to terminate child support for Son because Son had reached the age of nineteen. The trial court determined that the language in the dissolution decree—which provided that Father was obligated to pay child support until Son reached the age of twenty-one—trumped the amended statute and concluded that Father was still obligated to pay child support because Son had not yet reached the age of twenty-one.

The trial court acknowledged that the language used in dissolution decree “was  ‘boilerplate’ and reflected Indiana law as it existed at that time” of the entry of dissolution decree in August 2000. (App. 8). Indeed, the language used by the trial court in the decree, which tracks most of the situations that would trigger the termination of child support, makes clear that the trial court took its lead from the legislature and followed the existing law at the time of the decree regarding the duration that Father would be required to pay child support for Son. However, the trial court ignored the changes in the law regarding the termination of child support. The trial court’s failure to follow the law as set forth by our legislature was an abuse of discretion. [Footnote omitted.] The trial court had no discretion to go outside the law set out in the termination of child support statute and to extend Father’s duty to pay child support beyond what is required by the law. Accordingly, we reverse the trial court’s denial of Father’s petition to terminate child support and remand to the trial court to enter an order that grants Father’s petition and terminates child support for Son effective July 1, 2012. [Footnote omitted.]

Reversed and remanded. [Footnote omitted.]

ROBB, C.J., and MAY, J., concur.

 

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