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A father who remains stateside while his child and her mother live back in India must pay child support according to U.S. guidelines, in spite of his protests that doing so would effectively render his wife and child “millionaires” in their homeland, a Pennsylvania Superior Court panel has ruled in an apparent case of first impression. In Nischal v. Nischal, the judges affirmed a Lehigh County judge’s decision to order that Manu Nischal pay $498 per month to support his 3-year-old daughter Aprajita, who lives in India with mother Sudha Nischal. “[Manu] moved to the United States where he greatly increased his earning capacity and his standard of living, yet he argues that his daughter should not now be allowed to benefit from his good fortunes,” Senior Judge Peter Paul Olszewski wrote. “Additionally, there is no evidence that the support amount awarded is oppressive or confiscatory. We find that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in holding that [Manu] had failed to establish a reason for a downward deviation [from the child support guidelines].” Olszewski was joined by President Judge Joseph A. Del Sole and Judge John T. Bender. After Manu and Sudha were married, according to the opinion, Manu emigrated to the United States in early 2001. Manu has testified that he initially came to the United States for recreation, was later offered employment and, due to post-Sept. 11 immigration rule changes, has not been able to return to India pending a change of his residency status. Manu currently makes roughly $1,666 a month, while Sudha makes no income, according to the opinion. Sudha filed a complaint for child support, and in December 2004, Lehigh County Common Pleas Judge Thomas A. Wallitsch ordered Manu to pay the $498 per month in child support. “Father argued that the [lower court] erred in failing to apply a downward departure from the guidelines based on the fact that India is a third world country where the standard of living is much lower than that of the United States,” Olszewski wrote. “[He] argued that the cost of living in India is approximately 1/47th or 1/50th the cost of living in the United States, and that the amount of child support awarded would have the effect of making mother and child ‘millionaires’ in their native country.”

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