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Mother who was abused may be required to help fund father's supervised visitation

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that a domestic violence victim whose earnings since have increased may have to pay for supervised child-visitation services that the father is unable to afford.

The ruling in Glenn Hatmaker v. Betty Hatmaker, 49A05-1305-DR-253, reversed Marion Superior Judge David Dreyer’s denial of motions for unsupervised parenting time and modification of child support.

Glenn Hatmaker was convicted of battery against his wife, and the couple since has divorced. Neither parent was earning more than $1,200 per month at the time the father was ordered to pay $85 a week in support for the couple’s child.

The father was allowed supervised visitation but claimed he couldn’t afford to pay an agency that facilitated it. The mother testified earlier this year that she was afraid of the father, who was seeking unsupervised visitation.

The Court of Appeals held that because the mother’s income had significantly improved and the father’s had declined, his child support obligation should be reduced to about $22 a week according to guidelines. Also, the appeals court noted that the couple’s dissolution decree limiting the father to supervised visitation included no specific finding of endangerment of the child.

“(I)f unsupervised parenting time would pose a danger to a child, the parent is not entitled to dispense with supervision because of the costs associated with supervisory programs,” Judge Mark Bailey wrote for the panel that included Judges Cale Bradford and Melissa May.

“That said, however, our parenting-time statutes do not prohibit the trial court from exploring affordable options for low-income parents, such as grandparent, relative, or child advocate volunteer supervision. Moreover, it appears that Mother has much greater earnings than does Father and may be able to contribute to costs of supervision.”

“The order for supervised parenting time, modifiable upon agreement of the parties, is contrary to law,” the appeals panel ruled. “The trial court abused its discretion by refusing to modify Father’s child support obligation in the face of uncontroverted evidence that Mother’s income had increased substantially while Father’s income had decreased substantially.”
 



 

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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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