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Judges uphold custody award of non-biological child to stepfather

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The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed an award granting a man primary physical custody of his child with his ex-wife, as well as her daughter from a previous relationship.

Michael Fry sought primary physical custody of his child, J.F., and Teresa Dolan’s daughter, K.D., who was 3 years old when the Frys married, after Dolan was diagnosed with Huntington’s Disease, a degenerative illness that renders her incapable of taking care of the children. She was granted primary physical custody after the divorce.

The trial court granted Fry’s petition. At issue in Teresa Fry n/k/a Teresa Dolan v. Michael Fry, 64A03-1307-DR-262, is whether the trial court could have granted him custody of K.D. since he was not her biological father. The Court of Appeals affirmed, finding Fry is a de facto custodian of K.D.

“Although Michael was not obligated by the terms of the dissolution decree to support K.D. financially, he was given the right to exercise parenting time with her and he did in fact continue his parental relationship with her after the divorce until he filed his petition for emergency custody of both children when she was fourteen,” Judge Margret Robb wrote.

The judges pointed out that for nearly a year Dolan did not appeal the trial court order, instead filing motions to enforce her parental visitation rights.

“And finally, we note that this might be a different matter if K.D.’s biological father had filed the motion for relief from judgment alleging a due process violation in the proceedings which granted custody to a third party with no notice to or an opportunity for him to be heard. However, K.D.’s biological father was never mentioned by the parties, nor was the custody arrangement, if any, between him and Teresa with regard to K.D., and there is no indication of how or if this proceeding impacts him. This is not a situation where the trial court was determining custody between a custodial parent unable to care for the child, a non-custodial parent, and a third party,” Robb wrote.
 

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  4. My parents took advantage of the fact that I was homeless in 2012 and went to court and got Legal Guardianship I my 2 daughters. I am finally back on my feet and want them back, but now they want to fight me on it. I want to raise my children and have them almost all the time on the weekends. Mynparents are both almost 70 years old and they play favorites which bothers me a lot. Do I have a leg to stand on if I go to court to terminate lehal guardianship? My kids want to live with me and I want to raise them, this was supposed to be temporary, and now it is turning into a fight. Ridiculous

  5. Here's my two cents. While in Texas in 2007 I was not registered because I only had to do it for ten years. So imagine my surprise as I find myself forced to register in Texas because indiana can't get their head out of their butt long enough to realize they passed an ex post facto law in 2006. So because Indiana had me listed as a failure to register Texas said I had to do it there. Now if Indiana had done right by me all along I wouldn't need the aclu to defend my rights. But such is life.

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