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IBA: Helping Clients Give Children a Home

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By, Laurie Goggins, Staff Attorney, Indianapolis Legal Aid Society, Inc.

One of the most rewarding experiences an attorney from the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society can have is to assist a client to obtain Guardianship or Third Party Custody of a child. While both of these procedures enable a person to become the legal caregiver for a child, the requirements and procedures for each differ. The need for both guardianship and third party custody arise when a child’s parents are no longer able to care for them. There are many situations where this can occur. For example, a parent may be suffering from a debilitating illness, may be incarcerated, may struggle with addiction, or may be deceased.

Guardianships are filed in Probate Court. With proper consents of all parties, guardianships for minors may be granted without a formal hearing. Certain requirements must be met including the need for the petitioner to be free of any felony convictions.

A guardianship may not be granted if paternity has been established in another court, a child support order is in place, or there has been a dissolution of marriage. In these situations the appropriate action is to file for third party custody. Petitions for third party custody are filed in both Circuit and Superior Court. Typically a petitioner must file a motion to intervene as well as a petition for third party custody. If there is not an agreement by all involved parties, a hearing is held to determine if third party custody should be granted.

Recently the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society was able to assist a client in obtaining third party custody of three siblings. In this particular situation the children had been adopted by their maternal grandparents. Sadly, the grandmother died and a few years later the grandfather died. The children were now in their pre-teen and teenage years. Without a place to go, or other family members available, the future of the children seemed hopeless. Then, the childhood friend of the grandparents stepped forward and took all of the children into her home. With the assistance of the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society, this client was able to petition the court and be awarded custody of the children. The children are doing well and are once again in a stable and loving environment.

In another situation a woman came to the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society to seek guardianship of an infant. The mother of the child had impending legal issues and was facing incarceration. The mother wanted to know that the child would be well cared for while she was away. She had asked the client, a family friend, to take care of her child. The Indianapolis Legal Aid Society assisted the client in obtaining guardianship of the infant. Thanks to this client, the baby was placed in a stable, loving home.

For the attorneys who do these cases, there is a lot of satisfaction in seeing such a happy outcome for children who would otherwise be displaced. The Indianapolis Legal Aid Society is proud to do this work and happy to provide training for any attorneys who wish to volunteer their time in these worthwhile cases.

Any attorney interested in volunteering to assist the Indianapolis Legal Aid Society should contact John Floreancig, ILAS Executive Director, at 317.635.9538.•

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  1. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  2. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

  3. I will agree with that as soon as law schools stop lying to prospective students about salaries and employment opportunities in the legal profession. There is no defense to the fraudulent numbers first year salaries they post to mislead people into going to law school.

  4. The sad thing is that no fish were thrown overboard The "greenhorn" who had never fished before those 5 days was interrogated for over 4 hours by 5 officers until his statement was illicited, "I don't want to go to prison....." The truth is that these fish were measured frozen off shore and thawed on shore. The FWC (state) officer did not know fish shrink, so the only reason that these fish could be bigger was a swap. There is no difference between a 19 1/2 fish or 19 3/4 fish, short fish is short fish, the ticket was written. In addition the FWC officer testified at trial, he does not measure fish in accordance with federal law. There was a document prepared by the FWC expert that said yes, fish shrink and if these had been measured correctly they averaged over 20 inches (offshore frozen). This was a smoke and mirror prosecution.

  5. I love this, Dave! Many congrats to you! We've come a long way from studying for the bar together! :)

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