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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. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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