Articles Posted in Indiana Child Custody

When the custodial parent of a minor child in Indiana plans to move to a new residence, that parent must understand his or her rights or obligations with respect to child custody.suitcase

As of July 1, 2006, a parent with custody or court-approved parenting time with a minor has to first file a notice with the court and send a copy to give notice to the other parent. The court may then choose – or the other parent may request – a hearing to determine whether there should be a change in existing child custody, visitation, or support. If the other parent has parenting time or is trying to obtain it, they must be afforded a copy of this required notice to the court.

The court can’t refuse to give you permission to move. However, it could refuse to allow you to take your child with you, or it could substantially alter the existing custody, visitation, or support orders if you go through with the move. The court is generally going to consider:

  • Distance of the move;
  • Difficulty for the other parent to exercise parenting time after the move;
  • Whether the parent-child relationship can be preserved after the move;
  • Whether there is a pattern of trying to support or deny contact between the child and the other parent;
  • Reasons for the move;
  • Reasons the other parent opposes the move.

In the end, the court will always consider what is in the best interests of the child. Continue reading

In Indiana, when a custodial parent wishes to move either out of state or out of the country, he or she needs to comply with Indiana Code Chapter 31-17-2.2, which requires notification of the courts and the other parent. The law applies whether parents are divorced, separated, or never married. travelandtourism

In cases where the intended move is extremely far away – across the country or overseas – both parents involved should consult with an Indiana child custody attorney because the ramifications of such a move can be major. The court cannot prohibit someone from moving, but it can restrict a parent from taking the child with them. And in the event you are the non-custodial parent, it’s important to consult with a lawyer if you wish to oppose an ex-spouse’s move or modify an existing custody arrangement. Failure to do so in a timely manner could complicate your case, and taking matters into your own hands could put you at a legal disadvantage.

Take the recent case of Martinez v. Cahue, an appeal before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit, which has jurisdiction over all of Indiana. This was a case involving an appeal from the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division. According to court records, a young boy lived exclusively with his mother up until the age of seven, although his father lived nearby and saw him often. Mother and father had their own custody, visitation, and support arrangement, though it was never formalized by a court order. Then, when the boy turned seven, his mother moved to Mexico, her native country, and he went with her. Continue reading

When it comes to matters of child custody, the wishes of the child – particularly that of a child over the age of 14 – are some of the main statutory factors the court will consider when modifications are requested.teen

This is not to say that Indiana child custody modifications are solely based upon a child’s wishes. In fact, courts have traditionally been hesitant to do so. However, they are an “important consideration,” per a recent decision of Andrick v. Andrick by the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Here, a father sought modification of a child custody agreement involving his teenage son, who was living with his ex-wife, her new fiance, and her fiance’s two children. Although the lower court denied the modification, the court of appeals remanded the case. While Father had requested reversal of the trial court’s ruling, the appellate court was “not prepared to go that far.” It noted there was evidence in the case that could arguably support a result in favor of the mother, but there were erroneous findings by the lower court on crucial issues. There were also repeated citation by the trial court of incorrect legal standards, and thus the appeals court lacked confidence in the accuracy of the lower court’s judgment. Continue reading

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

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

While most of us get married believing the union is going to weather life’s storms, the reality is those storms get the best of many of us.
sadness2.jpg
Some of the major life changes that often precede divorce include:

  • Illness
  • Job changes
  • Having children
  • Living apart
  • Trauma
  • Becoming Empty-Nesters
  • Infidelity

Take for example the issue of illness. A recent study published in the Journal of Health and Social Behavior revealed marriages were 6 percent more likely to end in divorce when the wife was diagnosed with a serious illness, as compared to unions in which the wife remained healthy.
Continue reading

Anytime a custodial parent wishes to relocate with a child – whether it’s across the street or across the country – the parent must first notify the court and obtained permission.
usmap.jpg
Further, non-custodial parents have several options with how to proceed, particularly if they fear the move could have a detrimental impact on the parent-child bond.

Indiana Code 31-17-2.2-1 requires custodial parents to file a Notice of Intent to Relocate with the court at least three months prior to moving. Once the notice is filed, the non-custodial parent has 60 days in which to file an Objection to Relocation with the court.
Continue reading

Indiana courts are rarely eager to terminate the rights of faltering biological parents, who often receive numerous opportunities to reform and provide a stable, loving environment.
justthetwoofus.jpg
Termination of parental rights is seen as a last resort option, allowing the child to be either formally adopted by a more stable third party or to be deemed a child in need of service, in order to secure access to public support and services.

Still, parents who face this kind of action must recognize that such decisions, when they are handed down, are final and may forever close the door on an opportunity to establish a relationship with that child. Once appeals are exhausted, there may be no further right of action.
Continue reading

Approximately one in three children will live at least some portion of their childhood with a stepparent, according to recent statistics. These are individuals who will play an important and lasting role in children’s lives.
dancing.jpg
However, from a legal standpoint, stepparents – even residential stepparents – generally have fewer rights than even legal guardians or foster parents. Still, in situations where a stepparent voluntarily receives a stepchild into his or her family and treated the child as a family member, he or she could be considered in loco parentis, meaning he or she assumes an obligation to maintain and support the child.

But absent a formal adoption, a stepparent who later separates from the child’s biological parent and then seeks to establish visitation will face an uphill battle. It is absolutely possible, particularly if the child lived with the stepparent and the relationship was long-term. However, it’s not an automatic right. If a biological parent opposes, the matter will have to be addressed in family court.
Continue reading

Mental illness does not carry the same stigma it did even just a few decades ago. This has brought many conditions to light that may have otherwise been hidden, and allowed for better treatment plans with greater family support.
modelshoot.jpg
However, in the course of dissolving a marriage or within a child custody dispute, the mental health of one parent or both is sometimes called into question. Often, one side will press for the introduction of evidence such as medical records or the testimony of one’s psychotherapist in order to undercut that person’s fitness as a parent or to gain some other advantage in the case.

It’s important to understand confidential information and communication is protected by mental health professionals, but only to an extent. Particularly in child custody proceedings, the court will find it relative to determine whether one parent is “unstable” or “depressed.” If the information may directly relate to the well-being of a child or the parent’s ability to adequately care for the child, the court is likely to admit the information.
Continue reading