Family Law

Collaborative divorce use lagging in Indiana

January 13, 2016
Dave Stafford
Lea Shelemey learned about collaborative divorce a dozen years ago when she heard what lawyers were doing in her native Alberta, Canada. She’s been sold ever since, but she wishes more lawyers were trained in the process and more clients were willing to take the option
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Ringlespaugh: Custody issues for parents of special-needs children

January 13, 2016
When deciding child custody in a situation involving a child with special needs, it is important for the courts, parents and attorneys to consider how these situations differ from families that do not have children with disabilities.
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Ryznar: Grandparent visitation 15 years after Troxel

January 13, 2016
Margaret Ryznar
Given continued high levels of divorce and out-of-wedlock births, the role of grandparents continues to be an important source of stability in some families. Thus, in 2015, grandparent visitation made several appearances on the Indiana court dockets.
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Justices block Alabama court order in lesbian adoption case

December 14, 2015
 Associated Press
The U.S. Supreme Court has sided with a lesbian mother who wants to see her adopted children, blocking an Alabama court's order that declared the adoption invalid.
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Daughter’s emancipation leads to reduction in child support

December 11, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
A trial court should have reduced a father’s child support obligation to his three children because his daughter’s emancipation constitutes a substantial and continuing change, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Friday. The trial court denied the father’s motion because the amount of child support offered differed by less than 20 percent of the amount dictated by the Indiana Child Support Guidelines.
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Same-sex couples ask for summary judgment in birth certificate complaint

December 7, 2015
Marilyn Odendahl
Eight lesbian couples who sued the state for not putting both parents' names on their children’s birth certificates have filed a motion for summary judgment, asking the federal court to prohibit the state from denying the presumption of parenthood to female spouses of women who are artificially inseminated.
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Man loses appeal to revoke spousal maintenance

November 10, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
An ex-husband who sought “all-or-nothing” relief when he asked the court to terminate his ex-wife’s incapacity support instead of reducing it after she remarried lost his appeal before the Indiana Supreme Court.
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Terzo: Arbitration is viable alternative in family law disputes

October 7, 2015
It wasn’t until the 1990s that arbitration began to be seriously considered for family law cases. At that time there was no statute specifically directed to family law arbitration, and Indiana had no caselaw regarding family law arbitration. Our current statute, I.C. 34-57-5-1, et seq, was enacted in 2005. It answered many of the questions attorneys had.
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Indiana seeks more foster parents because of growing need

October 5, 2015
 Associated Press
The number of children in Indiana in foster care rose to 13,134 in June, up from 10,550 a year earlier, according to state records. The shortage of foster families is putting pressure on the pool of people who are licensed to foster and making it more difficult for caseworkers to find local placements.
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Diocese appeals $403K award to former Fort Wayne teacher

September 10, 2015
 Associated Press
The Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne-South Bend has appealed a judgment of more than $403,000 to be paid to a former language arts teacher who was fired after seeking several in vitro fertilization treatments.
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Grandmother granted too much visitation time, COA rules

August 28, 2015
Dave Stafford
A paternal grandmother was properly granted visitation time with her granddaughter, but the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Friday the court abused its discretion by awarding too much visitation time.
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Justices reinstate grandparent visitation COA deemed excessive

July 31, 2015
Dave Stafford
The Indiana Supreme Court Thursday reinstated a trial court’s grandparent visitation order that included monthly overnight visits and other visitation that the Court of Appeals ruled was excessive.
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Lawyers applaud proposed changes to child support guidelines

July 29, 2015
Marilyn Odendahl
The passage and implementation of the federal Affordable Care Act is underlying a proposal to rid Indiana’s child support guidelines of a loophole and complicated health insurance worksheet.
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For better or worse, the Internet impacts relationships

July 29, 2015
Margaret Ryznar
In just a quarter of a century, the Internet has had a huge impact at the beginning and end of people’s relationships, challenging family law to keep up.
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Ex-husband needed to take action to modify judgment, COA rules

March 12, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
A man challenging the proposed value of his pension’s surviving spouse benefit in a dissolution proceeding had to file his own Ind. Trial Rule 60(B) motion and not rely on the same motion filed by his ex-wife, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday.
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CASA Day at Statehouse set for Monday

March 3, 2015
IL Staff
Hundreds of Indiana court-appointed special advocates will gather Monday for CASA Day at the Statehouse in Indianapolis. The event will be at noon in the north atrium.
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COA affirms cutting off mother’s communication with daughter

February 25, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
The court record is replete with evidence supporting a juvenile court’s decision that a teenage girl would be better off if communication and visits with her mother were terminated, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Wednesday. The girl, in foster care, often had detrimental visits with her mother.
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Indiana same-sex couple files suit to get both names listed on birth certificate

February 13, 2015
Marilyn Odendahl
A married lesbian couple filed a complaint in federal court charging Indiana is violating their constitutional rights by not listing both their names on their child’s birth certificate.
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Appeals court strips grandmother’s visitation, cites grandchild’s adoption

February 6, 2015
Dave Stafford
An Indiana Court of Appeals panel Friday stripped a maternal grandparent of visitation rights, finding she had no standing to seek visitation. The parents of the child had divorced, and the father remarried shortly after the mother’s death.
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Ruling extends standing in adoption cases to those with ‘lawful custody’

January 14, 2015
Dave Stafford
The sometimes-bitter litigation between a child’s adoptive parent and her grandparents who raised her from a young age yielded a decision from the state’s highest court that family law experts believe may represent a significant shift in adoption cases.
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Zoeller: Use depositions over interrogatories in family law matters

January 14, 2015
We’ve all received the responses to interrogatories so doctored by opposing counsel there is virtually no substance, or so littered with objections and qualifications that the answer is meaningless. So for many years my solution to this problem has been to take depositions. I will outline a few of the reasons more family law practitioners should do the same.
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Protective order filings rise during past 9 years

January 14, 2015
Marilyn Odendahl
Attorneys say the 25 percent increase reflects more understanding and less victim blaming.
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Appeals court remands grandparents’ visitation order

January 13, 2015
Dave Stafford
Grandparents rightly were awarded visitation with their granddaughter after their daughter died, but the Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday a trial court abused its discretion in establishing the amount of time grandparents could spend with the child.
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Judge dissents on reversal of CHINS adjudication

January 7, 2015
Jennifer Nelson
A father who claimed his due process rights were violated when his daughter was adjudicated as a child in need of services before the conclusion of a fact-finding hearing won his appeal before the Court of Appeals Wednesday. But one judge believed that the trial court correctly found the girl to be a CHINS.
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Justices vacate adoption by stepdad in win for grandparents

December 23, 2014
Dave Stafford
The Indiana Supreme Court on Tuesday stripped the adoption of a child by her stepfather, ruling that maternal grandparents who had been primary caregivers early in her life were wrongly denied an opportunity to consent to or contest the adoption.
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  1. Where may I find an attorney working Pro Bono? Many issues with divorce, my Disability, distribution of IRA's, property, money's and pressured into agreement by my attorney. Leaving me far less than 5% of all after 15 years of marriage. No money to appeal, disabled living on disability income. Attorney's decision brought forward to judge, no evidence ever to finalize divorce. Just 2 weeks ago. Please help.

  2. For the record no one could answer the equal protection / substantive due process challenge I issued in the first post below. The lawless and accountable only to power bureaucrats never did either. All who interface with the Indiana law examiners or JLAP be warned.

  3. Hi there I really need help with getting my old divorce case back into court - I am still paying support on a 24 year old who has not been in school since age 16 - now living independent. My visitation with my 14 year old has never been modified; however, when convenient for her I can have him... I am paying past balance from over due support, yet earn several thousand dollars less. I would contact my original attorney but he basically molest me multiple times in Indy when I would visit.. Todd Woodmansee - I had just came out and had know idea what to do... I have heard he no longer practices. Please help1

  4. Yes diversity is so very important. With justice Rucker off ... the court is too white. Still too male. No Hispanic justice. No LGBT justice. And there are other checkboxes missing as well. This will not do. I say hold the seat until a physically handicapped Black Lesbian of Hispanic heritage and eastern religious creed with bipolar issues can be located. Perhaps an international search, with a preference for third world candidates, is indicated. A non English speaker would surely increase our diversity quotient!!!

  5. First, I want to thank Justice Rucker for his many years of public service, not just at the appellate court level for over 25 years, but also when he served the people of Lake County as a Deputy Prosecutor, City Attorney for Gary, IN, and in private practice in a smaller, highly diverse community with a history of serious economic challenges, ethnic tensions, and recently publicized but apparently long-standing environmental health risks to some of its poorest residents. Congratulations for having the dedication & courage to practice law in areas many in our state might have considered too dangerous or too poor at different points in time. It was also courageous to step into a prominent and highly visible position of public service & respect in the early 1990's, remaining in a position that left you open to state-wide public scrutiny (without any glitches) for over 25 years. Yes, Hoosiers of all backgrounds can take pride in your many years of public service. But people of color who watched your ascent to the highest levels of state government no doubt felt even more as you transcended some real & perhaps some perceived social, economic, academic and professional barriers. You were living proof that, with hard work, dedication & a spirit of public service, a person who shared their same skin tone or came from the same county they grew up in could achieve great success. At the same time, perhaps unknowingly, you helped fellow members of the judiciary, court staff, litigants and the public better understand that differences that are only skin-deep neither define nor limit a person's character, abilities or prospects in life. You also helped others appreciate that people of different races & backgrounds can live and work together peacefully & productively for the greater good of all. Those are truths that didn't have to be written down in court opinions. Anyone paying attention could see that truth lived out every day you devoted to public service. I believe you have been a "trailblazer" in Indiana's legal community and its judiciary. I also embrace your belief that society's needs can be better served when people in positions of governmental power reflect the many complexions of the population that they serve. Whether through greater understanding across the existing racial spectrum or through the removal of some real and some perceived color-based, hope-crushing barriers to life opportunities & success, movement toward a more reflective representation of the population being governed will lead to greater and uninterrupted respect for laws designed to protect all peoples' rights to life, liberty & the pursuit of happiness. Thanks again for a job well-done & for the inevitable positive impact your service has had - and will continue to have - on countless Hoosiers of all backgrounds & colors.

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