Friday, September 9, 2005

Case Law Development: Agreements to Pay Child Support Beyond Majority Enforced as Decrees; No Joinder of Tort Actions Permitted

In this case, Mother and Father agreed that both would pay for their child's post-secondary education, with a schedule for adjustments in child support. Child had a Uniform Gift to Minors Act (UGMA) account, for which Father was custodian.  The Colorado Court of Appeals upheld the trial court’s adjustment of child support on terms other than those in the agreement but reversed the trial court’s removal of Father as the custodian of the UGMA account on the grounds that the trial court did not have jurisdiction over a tort of breach of fiduciary duty. 

In re Marriage of Ludwig, 2005 Colo. App. LEXIS 1467 (September 8, 2005)
Opinion on the web at http://www.courts.state.co.us/coa/opinion/2005/2005q3/04CA0650.pdf (last visited September 9, 2005 bgf)

The court reasoned that, while agreements to extend child support beyond the age of majority are enforceable, they are enforced as decrees, rather than contracts, so that modifications to the agreement are governed by the standards for modification of any child support order.   The court also held that the trial court did not have to take into account the daughter’s UGMA account as an offset against Father’s child support obligation, as the determination of whether a child’s income should count in child support calculations is one made based on the totality of circumstances.  Finally, the court held that the trial court lacked jurisdiction over the breach of fiduciary claim, as Colorado does not permit joinder of interspousal tort claims or contract claims with marital actions.

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/family_law/2005/09/case_law_develo_15.html

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