Sunday, January 8, 2006
Case Law Development: Parent Receives Child Support Credit for Social Security Retirement Benefits Paid to Child
The Tennessee Court of Appeals recognized a child support credit for Father for the amount of social security payments made to child upon Father's retirement, even though the effect of those payments was to displace the child's own social security disability payments, thus lowering the child's overall resources. The court noted that settled law provided that when a parent retires, the amount of social security paid to that parent's child should be credited against the parent's child support obligation. However, in this case, the child had been receiving social security disability payments of only $69 less than the amount of the social security payments. Since the retirement dependency payment would replace rather than supplement the disability payment, mother argued that Father should not be given a credit for the entire amount of the social security payment.
The court concluded that, while mother's equitable argument "strikes a responsive chord, it cannot carry the day based on the law applicable to this case. As the law existed at the time of the hearing, an obligor parent's child support obligation was a function of the parent's income, the number of children to be supported, and several well defined grounds for deviation. .... The courts are not permitted to take the other financial resources that might be available to the child into consideration. "
Martella v. Martella, 2006 Tenn. App. LEXIS 11 (January 5, 2006)
Opinion on the web at http://www.tsc.state.tn.us/opinions/tca/PDF/061/MartellaESFopn.pdf (last visited January 8, 2006 bgf)