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COA affirms joint legal custody

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The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a dissolution court's decision to grant joint legal custody of two minor children to the parents, finding the lower court followed Indiana statute in granting the custody.

In Diana Gonzalez v. Edward Gonzalez, No. 64A04-0712-CV-733, Diana Gonzalez argued the dissolution court erred in granting her legal custody to make health care decisions for two minor children, and in giving her ex-husband Edward Gonzalez legal custody over educational and religious decisions.

Shortly before Diana filed for divorce, Edward was excommunicated from the church where the family attended services and where the children were enrolled in school. Members of the congregation are not to associate with those who have been excommunicated; Edward wanted the children to attend a different church and school.

Diana asserted the dissolution court "ignored" the statutory requirements of Indiana Code Section 31-17-2-17. Diana had physical custody of the two children and argued that the term "custodian" used in the section applied to the person with physical custody of the child, and according to the statute, she should be able to make the decisions regarding education and religion.

But the appellate court disagreed, finding the term custodian in the statute applies to the legal custodian, not physical custodian, of the child, wrote Judge Edward Najam. In addition, during the final custody hearing, Edward's request for legal custody of the two children was the functional equivalent of a "motion" under subsection (b) of the statute, which allows for limitation of a custodian's authority, wrote the judge.

The joint legal custody arrangement is in the best interest of the two children because there is evidence if Diana had educational and religious legal custody, she would enroll the children in a school and church in which their father had been excommunicated. Allowing Edward to enroll the children in a different school and church is what's best to allow for a healthy relationship with their father, the court found.

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  1. Hysteria? Really Ben? Tell the young lady reported on in the link below that worrying about the sexualizing of our children is mere hysteria. Such thinking is common in the Royal Order of Jesters and other running sex vacays in Thailand or Brazil ... like Indy's Jared Fogle. Those tempted to call such concerns mere histronics need to think on this: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/a-12-year-old-girl-live-streamed-her-suicide-it-took-two-weeks-for-facebook-to-take-the-video-down/ar-AAlT8ka?li=AA4ZnC&ocid=spartanntp

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  3. This is happening so much. Even in 2016.2017. I hope the father sue for civil rights violation. I hope he sue as more are doing and even without a lawyer as pro-se, he got a good one here. God bless him.

  4. JLAP and other courtiers ... Those running court systems, have most substance abuse issues. Probably self medicating to cover conscience issues arising out of acts furthering govt corruption

  5. I whole-heartedly agree with Doug Church's comment, above. Indiana lawyers were especially fortunate to benefit from Tom Pyrz' leadership and foresight at a time when there has been unprecedented change in the legal profession. Consider how dramatically computer technology and its role in the practice of law have changed over the last 25 years. The impact of the great recession of 2008 dramatically changed the composition and structure of law firms across the country. Economic pressures altered what had long been a routine, robust annual recruitment process for law students and recent law school graduates. That has, in turn, impacted law school enrollment across the country, placing upward pressure on law school tuition. The internet continues to drive significant changes in the provision of legal services in both public and private sectors. The ISBA has worked to make quality legal representation accessible and affordable for all who need it and to raise general public understanding of Indiana laws and procedures. How difficult it would have been to tackle each of these issues without Tom's leadership. Tom has set the tone for positive change at the ISBA to meet the evolving practice needs of lawyers of all backgrounds and ages. He has led the organization with vision, patience, flexibility, commitment, thoughtfulness & even humor. He will, indeed, be a tough act to follow. Thank you, Tom, for all you've done and all the energy you've invested in making the ISBA an excellent, progressive, highly responsive, all-inclusive, respectful & respected professional association during his tenure there.

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