from the Hamilton Superior Court Trial Court Cause No.
29D02-0410-DR-913 The Honorable Jonathan M. Brown, Judge
Attorney for Appellant Daniel J. Zlatic Rubino, Ruman,
Crosmer & Polen Dyer, Indiana
Cathy Lynn Baker ("Mother") appeals the trial
court's order denying her petition for emancipation,
termination of child support, and termination of income
withholding. She raises two issues, of which we find the
following dispositive: whether the trial court abused its
discretion when it denied her petition to terminate child
We reverse and remand.
and Procedural History
Mother and Douglas L. Grout ("Father") were
married, and their marriage was dissolved by a decree of
dissolution in 2008. Mother and Father are the parents of one
son, Nicholas Grout ("Nicholas"), who was born on
July 13, 1999. Since February 8, 2016, Mother was ordered to
pay child support for Nicholas in the amount of $133 per
week. Appellant's App. Vol. II at 19. On June
13, 2018, Mother filed a "Verified Petition for
Emancipation, Termination of Child Support, and Termination
of Income Withholding Order," requesting that her child
support be terminated on July 13, 2018 when Nicholas turned
nineteen. Id. at 39-40.
A hearing was held on June 28, 2018, and the following
evidence was presented. Nicholas would turn nineteen years
old on July 13, 2018. Tr. Vol. II at 6. Nicholas had
no disabilities of any sort. Id. Nicholas had been
approved for a "Century 21 Scholarship Fund"
("the Scholarship") that would pay for four years
of schooling at any school of his choice within the state of
Indiana. Id. at 7. Nicholas was planning to attend
Indiana University-Purdue University at Indianapolis
("IUPUI"), starting as a freshman in August of
2018. Id. at 7, 8, 11. Nicholas did not have to take
out any loans for college. Id. at 12. The evidence
presented showed that the Scholarship, along with grants,
covered Nicholas's cost of attending IUPUI for a student
living at home. Resp't's Exs. A, B. Nicholas
planned to live at Father's home while attending IUPUI.
Tr. Vol. II at 13. Father testified that he was not
asking for Mother to contribute to educational expenses if
everything was being paid through grants and scholarships.
Id. at 14. Mother testified that Nicholas qualified
for four years of the Scholarship and that the Scholarship
was not dependent on his grades, and he is entitled to the
grants as long as he does not "flunk out" (less
than a 1.0 G.P.A.) of school. Id. at 7, 16-17.
At the conclusion of the hearing, the trial court denied
Mother's petition and ordered her to continue to pay
child support for Nicholas. Id. at 18-19;
Appellant's App. Vol. II at 19-21. In its order
denying Mother's petition, the trial court ordered Mother
to pay child support beginning on August 17, 2018 in the
amount of $52 per week and did not state when Mother's
payment of child support would cease. Appellant's
App. Vol. II at 19-21. Mother now appeals.
Mother argues that the trial court abused its discretion when
it denied her petition to terminate child support.
Determinations of child support obligations are within the
trial court's discretion and will not be set aside unless
they are clearly erroneous. Turner v. Turner, 983
N.E.2d 643, 646 (Ind.Ct.App. 2013) (citing Cubel v.
Cubel, 876 N.E.2d 1117, 1119 (Ind. 2007)).
Initially, we note that Father did not file an appellee's
brief. When an appellee fails to file a brief, we apply a
less stringent standard of review. McKibben v.
Kaiser, 106 N.E.3d 529, 530 (Ind.Ct.App. 2018). We are
under no obligation to undertake the burden of developing an
argument for the appellee. Id. Therefore, we may
reverse the trial court if the appellant establishes prima
facie error, which is error "at first sight, on first
appearance, or on the face of it." Id.
Under Indiana Code section 31-16-6-6,
(a) The duty to support a child under this chapter, which
does not include support for educational needs, ceases when
the child becomes nineteen (19) years of age unless ...