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Judges disagree whether mother’s relocation is in good faith

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A panel on the Indiana Court of Appeals Thursday couldn’t agree whether a northern Indiana mother’s decision to relocate with her two children was made in good faith. The majority upheld her request to relocate.

In Geoffrey A. Gilbert v. Melinda J. Gilbert, 57A03-1308-DR-312, Geoffrey Gilbert appealed the grant of his ex-wife’s petition to relocate with their two minor children. Melinda Gilbert wanted to relocate because she needed a bigger house for her two children with Geoffrey Gilbert, her new child with her fiancé and her fiance’s child who lived with them occasionally. She said she was unable to find a home that accommodated their needs in Albion and decided to relocate to Goshen, approximately 30 miles from Geoffrey Gilbert.

Judges Patricia Riley and Michael Barnes affirmed the grant of Melinda Gilbert’s petition to relocate, finding the record clearly supports the conclusion that she sought to relocate in good faith. She worked to alleviate her ex-husband’s inconvenience by staying relatively close to his home in Albion, he works in Goshen, and his two older children from a previous marriage live in Middlebury and attend the same school system that the younger Gilbert children would.

Also, the majority noted the amount of time the children would spend with their father was not going to change regardless of whether the trial court approved or denied their mother’s request to relocate.

“Therefore, we conclude that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting Mother’s relocation request because Father failed to prove that it was not in the Children’s best interests,” Riley wrote.

Judge Margret Robb dissented, writing she didn’t believe Melinda Gilbert desired to relocate in good faith. Robb said the record doesn’t support moving to a better school district as a good faith and legitimate reason for her proposed relocation as Melinda Gilbert gave no testimony about the Goshen schools.

“If simply saying, ‘I want a bigger house,’ is a good faith and legitimate reason for relocating, then we have gone too far in the opposite direction of setting too high a bar for the relocating parent to meet, we have set no bar whatsoever,” Robb wrote.

The majority affirmed the denial of appellate attorney fees for Melinda Gilbert.
 

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  3. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  4. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  5. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

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