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Appellate court finds mother wasn't in contempt

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The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with a mother that the Clark Circuit Court erred in finding her in contempt for not putting her teenage daughter on a plane to Florida to visit the teen’s father over Christmas break. The appellate court did agree with the trial court that the mom should have to pay for another flight to visit the father.

In the case of In Re: The Paternity of M.F.; N.F. v. J.T., No. 10A01-1101-JP-15, mother N.F. appealed the finding that she was in contempt of a June 2010 order that daughter M.F. was to spend seven days of winter break 2010 with her father J.T. in Florida. The parents texted and emailed possible days for M.F. to visit. Mother N.F. didn’t tell J.T. that M.F.’s school had a make-up snow day on Dec. 20, so she wouldn’t be able to fly out on Dec. 17 or 18 as initially discussed. J.T. went ahead and bought a ticket for M.F. to fly out on Dec. 18, but N.F. didn’t put their daughter on the plane.

At a Dec. 22, 2010, hearing, the trial court found the mother to be in contempt, ordered her to pay $300 in attorney fees, and purchase a round-trip ticket for M.F. to travel to Florida Dec. 27 through Jan. 2, 2011.

The Court of Appeals found N.F. presented a prima facie case that the trial court abused its discretion in finding her in contempt. N.F. pointed out that the June 2010 order didn’t specify how travel arrangements would be made for J.T.’s winter break parenting time, nor did it expressly state that the mother was responsible for buying a ticket to make sure M.F. saw her father. N.F. also presented evidence that both parties knew there was a possibility that Dec. 20 could be used as a make-up day for school and that J.T. had access to the school calendar online.

Because they reversed the contempt finding, the judges also reversed the order that N.F. pay $300 in attorney fees. But they upheld the order she buy a round-trip ticket for M.F. to visit her father during the second week of her winter break.

Judge James Kirsch dissented without opinion.
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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