Termination of a parent-child relationship in Indiana is done through judicial proceeding that will forever end the legal, social and financial relationship and responsibilities between a parent and child. It means that all power, privilege, immunity, duty and obligation to that child by the parent is totally gone.mother1

Parents can choose to voluntarily terminate their parent-child relationship, but only when the action is initiated by the Department of Child Services or an adoption agency. Cases if involuntary termination are initiated by DCS.  Continue reading

The New Year brings with it the potential for change. Many who have been suffering in marriages that are miserable, loveless or simply unfulfilling seize the opportunity to write a new chapter.brokenheart

That’s why January has a reputation for being “divorce month.”

But as heartbreaking – or freeing – as the process may be, one of the first things we recommend to those on both sides of the aisle: Companionship.

Not with each other, of course, but with an experienced divorce attorney. You’re going to need a legal, tax and investment professional to help guide you through this change so you don’t end up on shaky financial ground. The goal is to keep things as amicable as possible and as equitable as possible. In cases where relations are contentious or strained, it’s especially important to have a third-party to help mediate the conversation and goals. Continue reading

A few years back, I wrote a blog article entitled Negligent Party Hosts in Indiana May Face Liability. The article provided some general rules and suggestions concerning possible liability issues for people who have parties during the holiday season.

A recent Indiana decision, F. John Rogers, as Personal Representative of Paul Michalik, Deceased, and R. David Boyer, Trustee of the Bankruptcy Estate of Jerry Lee Chambers v. Angela Martin and Brian Paul Brothers, 02A05-1506-CT 520 increases the potential for liability and the responsibilities for a party host.

In that case, the land possessors, defendants Martin and Brothers shared a residence.  They threw a party and alcohol was purchased using funds from a joint bank account.  Jerry Lee Chambers was a guest at the party.
The party lasted a long time and at some point a number of the guests participated in a poker game in the basement.  Martin went to bed.  As the party continued, Brothers and Martin became involved in an altercation.  Brothers made Martin aware that there had been a fight.   Martin got up and accompanied Brothers to the basement.  They discovered Chambers  laying face down and not moving. Martin had Brothers check on Chamber’s condition and was told that Chambers was unconscious.  Martin expressed some concern that Chambers might have alcohol poisoning but at no time did she provide or seek medical assistance for him. Brothers also failed to do so.  Subsequently, Chambers was found dead in the front yard.  A wrongful death case was filed pursuant to the Indiana Dram Shop Act.  The suit also claimed that the Martin and Brothers as land possessors breached a common law duty to use reasonable care for the protection of guests by failing to render aid.

Previously, Indiana law did not require an individual to render aid even if he or she knew that assistance was needed unless there were special relationships that created a duty such as a bus company and its passengers, or a hotel operator and guests, or a possessor of land who invites the public onto the property.  The Rogers court added a new category when it ruled that a social host/guest relationship is a special relationship as it relates to the duty to render aid.  Further, the Court stated that moral and humanitarian considerations may require a person to render aid, even if the injury was not caused by any of his or her  negligent acts or were caused by the acts of the injured person.  What is considered reasonable medical care will depend on all of the circumstances, including the background, education and training of the social host.   So, Indiana residents who will be hosting holiday parties, NCAA Final Four Parties and Super Bowl Parties must be prepared to provide medical aid if their guests become injured or ill.  If they fail to do so, they may find themselves being sued for damages, injuries or wrongful death as Ms. Martin was.

Finally, there is no reason to think that a court may not extend the duty to render aid beyond the social host situation.  One example could be if a guest slips and falls on your property, and is injured, even without alcohol being a factor, and regardless of fault.

Attorney Burton A. Padove represents injury victims throughout Indiana and Illinois.  Call (219) 836 2200 for a free and confidential consultation and to ask questions about damages, injuries and compensation.

Spousal maintenance – also sometimes referred to as alimony – is awarded in Indiana divorces under certain circumstances. couple

Typically, this is offered when one spouse earns significantly more than the other. Usually, this type of support is temporary, though a judge may determine it should be indefinite if the lesser earning spouse is disabled or unable to return to work for other reasons.

Whether spousal maintenance is permanent or temporary, parties may request modification or even termination when there is a material change in circumstance, such as remarriage. However, the 1994 Indiana Court of Appeals case of Roberts v. Roberts was clear in establishing the fact that spousal maintenance is not automatically terminated upon remarriage. There still needs to be proof presented by the moving party that the marriage means a significant change in the former spouse’s ability to support himself or herself.

This issue was weighed against recently by the Indiana Supreme Court in Gertiser v. Gertiser. Continue reading

A new study published last month in the American Journal on Intellectual and Developmental Disabilities revealed that while parents of children with developmental disabilities weren’t more likely to divorce than other parents, their reasons for separating often differed. motherson

Researchers analyzed a longitudinal study of more than 10,000 people – and some of their siblings – beginning in 1957. From this group, study authors identified 190 parents of biological children with developmental disabilities, as compared to 7,250 parents of children without disabilities. What they discovered was that the rate of divorce was about the same for both groups – 1 in 5. However, for parents of children with no developmental issues, risks of divorce were lowest with just one child, and increased with each subsequent child. This was not true though for parents of children with disabilities.

What this suggests is that other children may provide an important support and coping system in caring for a developmentally disabled child, researchers say. Continue reading

The business of dividing property, deciding child custody and support payments and parsing out details of a decades-olhandholdingd prenuptial agreement can be messy. When two people have built a life together, it can be difficult trying to untangle all the strings as fairly and painlessly as possible.

The case of Carmer v. Carmer, recently before the Indiana Court of Appeals, is one such example. This was a case in which a couple married for more than 20 years was separating after purchasing two homes together, having three children and in the midst of preparing to adopt two more. There was a premarital agreement on the table, but there was dispute about how it should be interpreted. There was also contention as to whether husband’s monthly annuities – received as compensation stemming from a personal injury lawsuit – should be factored into the child support schedule.

Just as every marriage is different, so too is every divorce and every divorce agreement. It’s imperative throughout the process to have an experienced divorce attorney advocating on your behalf and for the best interests of your children. Continue reading

Indiana law requires an equitable division of property in a divorce. However, “equitable” does not mean “equal,” and it can be difficult for courts to divide property when separate and marital property is commingled.money

Marital property is that which is acquired during marriage, while separate property is what a spouse owns prior to marriage or acquires by gift or inheritance during the marriage. Even so, a judge has the discretion to divide the couple’s property in any way that seems fair, regardless of when it was acquired or who actually owns it. Commingling happens when separate and marital property is mixed.

Factors that may be considered when dividing a couple’s property unequally would be:

  • Economic situation of each spouse;
  • Each spouse’s current earnings or earning potential;
  • Conduct that resulted in dissipation or loss of property;
  • Each spouse’s contributions to property acquisition or income.

Continue reading

monopolyWhen family courts are weighing how much a parent should pay in child support, they doesn’t simply look at each party’s pay stubs. Typically, the courts conduct a detailed analysis that includes consideration of:

  • Salaries and wages
  • Income from overtime and second jobs
  • Investment and interest income
  • Pension income
  • Trust or estate income
  • Annuities
  • Capital gains
  • Social Security benefits
  • Veterans’ benefits
  • Military personnel fringe benefits
  • National Reserve and drill pay
  • Workers’ compensation
  • Unemployment
  • Disability insurance benefits
  • Prizes and gifts (including gambling and lottery winnings)
  • Income of a new spouse
  • Alimony received from another
  • Real estate income

Continue reading

Per the 2002 Indiana Supreme Court case of In re Guardianship of B.H., family courts in this state operate with the strong presumption that a child’s interests are best served by being placed with his or her natural parent. When third parties seek to intervene in custody proceedings to acquire custody, it is the third party that bears the burden of proof in the case. familysilouette

This is true even when natural parents initiate an action to re-obtain custody of a child. In those situations, the burden of proof doesn’t automatically shift back to the parent. Instead, it’s always on the third party. Parents and third parties aren’t, as the courts have held, on a “level playing field” when it comes to custody. Parents will always have the upper hand.

However, this does not mean parents don’t lose these cases. In fact, it happens all the time and it’s often the result of being unprepared for hearings and trials – including failing to adhere to court recommendations and guidelines from previous hearings. Continue reading

In Indiana, marital property is commonly referred to as a “marital pot.” It is all the assets and liabilities a couple shares in the course of their marriage. When they are divorced, in essence everything gets poured into a “pot,” and it’s up to the court to decide the best way to equitably divide it all. pot

There is a legal presumption under Indiana law that property will be divided equally (50/50). However, parties can overcome that presumption by rebutting it with evidence to show why there should be a deviation. The goal isn’t always totally equal division, but rather equitable (fair) division in light of the circumstances.

Division of property is often one of the most contentious aspects of any divorce, and it’s one that often makes it to the appellate courts when one or both parties disagree with trial judge’s ruling. Such was the case in Carie v. Carie, recently before the Indiana Court of Appeals. Continue reading