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Trial court erred in modifying custody in favor of father

March 30, 2012

A trial court’s decision to grant a father’s motion to modify custody and prevent his ex-wife from relocating with their son was clearly erroneous, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded in reversing the decision. The lower court ruling virtually ignored the immense benefit the mother’s new position in Tennessee would bring to her and her son.

In D.C. v. J.A.C., No. 32A04-1106-DR-296, mother D.C., who had physical custody of son B.C., filed a notice of intent with the trial court to relocate to Tennessee for a better job. She would have earned about $30,000 more than if she stayed in Indiana, and the job would have been a promotion. Father J.A.C. filed for motion to modify custody and prevent relocation of their son.

The trial court noted the better paying job, but stated that the primary reason the mother was relocating was because of her relationship with her boyfriend. It awarded a change in custody to the father and granted the mother parenting time.

The appellate court found the trial court’s analysis of D.C.’s reason for relocating somewhat perplexing, wrote Judge John Baker, noting the judge focused mostly on her move as being motivated by her relationship with her boyfriend. In addition, she has been the primary caregiver. The judges remanded with instructions that the trial court be mindful of the relocation when establishing father’s parenting time.

They denied J.A.C.’s request for appellate attorney fees.

 

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