Nolan v. Huff – Paramours Complicate Indiana Child Custody Cases

When it comes to issues of parenting rights, child custody, visitation time, and child support, there are many sensitive and complicated angles to consider. 

One that Hammond family law attorneys sometimes see crop up is when one parent becomes involved with a new paramour, be it a boyfriend or girlfriend or a new legal spouse. It may be uncomfortable for the ex-spouse; beyond that, it could mean changes in the previously agreed-to parenting plan. That’s why it may be wise to avoid inviting new love interests to spend extensive time with one’s children until the developing relationship becomes more serious.

There have been a significant number of cases in which a parent will apply to limit the amount of exposure children have to their ex-spouse’s new boyfriend or girlfriend. In some cases, this desire arises out of legitimate concern, either a fear that the child will form too close an attachment too quickly, or a worry about the child’s safety due to the paramour’s history. In other instances, it’s simply done out of spite or jealousy. 

In either case, it can have a significant impact on the outcome of a child custody case. Take for example the recent case of Nolan v. Huff, before the Indiana Court of Appeals.

Here, according to court records, the parties were married in 2003 and have twins, born in 2010. Father filed for divorce in 2012. At some point during the divorce proceedings, the father began dating a woman, “Kim.” Soon after, Mother began dating Kim’s then-husband, “Tony.”

By the fall of 2013, both parties had worked successfully through mediation, and it was agreed by both sides that neither parent’s significant other would be left alone with the children without the parent being present. When the divorce was finalized, it was also determined that the mother’s boyfriend was not to live with the mother (with whom the children primarily resided) and Tony was not to be alone with the children. Father was given parenting time in excess of Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines.

Two months later, Mother filed a motion to relocate, seeking permission to move across the state to be closer to her parents and asking that her boyfriend be allowed to live with her. In response, Father opposed that motion and alleged the boyfriend was already living with her in violation of the decree.

At a hearing, the woman said the boyfriend stayed overnight at her home 3 or 4 nights a week, but it was not his legal residence. At that hearing, Kim also testified to the court that her still-husband had anger and violence issues and had raped her more than 20 times over the course of 18 months when she refused him sex. She also said he was violent with their own children.

The court ultimately granted Mother’s request to relocate, but found in her in contempt of court for allowing her boyfriend to live with her in violation of the order, citing her “blatant disregard” for it. The penalty for that was taken under advisement, but the court did award father more parenting time.

Mother appealed, arguing parenting time should not have changed, as neither party had requested it. The appeals court affirmed, noting that the mother impliedly consented to having custody considered when she petitioned the court to relocate, and the court was entitled to consider all matters before it.

This case reveals why parents must tread carefully when it comes to bringing a significant other into their lives in the midst of child custody disputes.

Indiana Family Law Attorney Burton A. Padove handles divorce and child custody matters throughout northern Indiana, including Gary and Hammond. Call Toll Free 877-446-5294.

Additional Resources:

Nolan v. Huff, May 20, 2016, Indiana Court of Appeals

More Blog Entries:

Andrick v. Andrick – Indiana Child Custody Modification Order Affirmed in Part, Remanded in Part, May 20, 2016, Hammond Family Law Attorney Blog

Contact Information