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01/18/88 JAMES PATRICK v. BRENDA PATRICK (NOW

Filed: January 18, 1988.

JAMES PATRICK, APPELLANT (RESPONDENT BELOW),
v.
BRENDA PATRICK (NOW MESSER), APPELLEE (PETITIONER BELOW)



APPEAL FROM THE LAGRANGE CIRCUIT COURT, The Honorable Robert C. Probst, Special Judge, Cause No. C-76-210.

Neal, J., Miller, P.j., Concurs, Conover, P.j., Concurs.

Author: Neal

NEAL, J.

STATEMENT OF THE CASE

Respondent-appellant, James Patrick (James), appeals a series of trial court judgments that held he was in contempt of court and owed arrears in child support in the amount of $16,863.00. We affirm.

STATEMENT OF FACTS

On November 27, 1979, a Decree of Dissolution was granted to James. At the time of the dissolution, James was disabled and receiving Social Security benefits. His two biological children, Stacy and Tammy, were also receiving benefits at that time. Pursuant to the divorce decree, Stacy and Tammy continued to receive their Social Security benefit checks as child support.

In late 1979, James remarried. In July of 1980, he enrolled his new wife and two step-children as dependents on his Social Security Disability Pension. As a result, the dependent benefit for children was equally divided between the two step-children and Stacy and Tammy. In June of 1985, Tammy married and became emancipated. As a result of her emancipation, the Social Security benefits were divided equally among Stacy and the two step-children.

On April 3, 1984, James' first wife, Brenda Patrick (now Messer), filed a Verified Application for Rule to Show Cause. Pursuant to that petition and after a hearing, the trial court found James to be in contempt of court for failure to pay support as ordered. The trial court determined that the support arrearage by stipulation was $16,863.00.

On July 22, 1986, James filed his Petition to Modify in order to obtain the trial court's permission to add his step-children as dependents on his Social Security Disability Pension and to reduce the amount of support paid to his unemancipated natural child, Stacy. The trial court denied the motion.

James timely filed motions to correct errors on each of the judgments and each was denied by the trial court. The two subsequent appeals were consolidated into the appeal currently before this court.

ISSUES

James raises several issues which may be restated as follows:

I. Did the trial court properly interpret the child support provisions in the dissolution decree as incorporating an escalation clause requiring James to pay all future increases in the Social Security ...


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