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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 child support award is many times what the custodial parent earns, and exceeds the actual costs of providing for the children's needs. My fiance and I have agreed that if we divorce, that the children will be provided for using a shared checking account like this one(http://www.mediate.com/articles/if_they_can_do_parenting_plans.cfm) to avoid the hidden alimony in Indiana's child support guidelines.

  2. Fiat justitia ruat caelum is a Latin legal phrase, meaning "Let justice be done though the heavens fall." The maxim signifies the belief that justice must be realized regardless of consequences.

  3. Indiana up holds this behavior. the state police know they got it made.

  4. Additional Points: -Civility in the profession: Treating others with respect will not only move others to respect you, it will show a shared respect for the legal system we are all sworn to protect. When attorneys engage in unnecessary personal attacks, they lose the respect and favor of judges, jurors, the person being attacked, and others witnessing or reading the communication. It's not always easy to put anger aside, but if you don't, you will lose respect, credibility, cases, clients & jobs or job opportunities. -Read Rule 22 of the Admission & Discipline Rules. Capture that spirit and apply those principles in your daily work. -Strive to represent clients in a manner that communicates the importance you place on the legal matter you're privileged to handle for them. -There are good lawyers of all ages, but no one is perfect. Older lawyers can learn valuable skills from younger lawyers who tend to be more adept with new technologies that can improve work quality and speed. Older lawyers have already tackled more legal issues and worked through more of the problems encountered when representing clients on various types of legal matters. If there's mutual respect and a willingness to learn from each other, it will help make both attorneys better lawyers. -Erosion of the public trust in lawyers wears down public confidence in the rule of law. Always keep your duty to the profession in mind. -You can learn so much by asking questions & actively listening to instructions and advice from more experienced attorneys, regardless of how many years or decades you've each practiced law. Don't miss out on that chance.

  5. Agreed on 4th Amendment call - that was just bad policing that resulted in dismissal for repeat offender. What kind of parent names their boy "Kriston"?

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