Family Law

St. Joseph Family Justice Center marks 10th year with national event

July 15, 2014
IL Staff
The Family Justice Center of St. Joseph County, a one-stop help center for victims of domestic violence and their children, is marking the 10th anniversary of its founding with public events and training sessions as it hosts the National Family Justice Center Initiative Wednesday through Friday.
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Justices: Some employers don't have to cover birth control

June 30, 2014
 Associated Press
The Supreme Court ruled Monday that some corporations can hold religious objections that allow them to opt out of the new health law requirement that they cover contraceptives for women.
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COA affirms order that child should remain in Indiana with father

June 26, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
Although the trial court erred in concluding that a Johnson County mother did not relocate to South Carolina for legitimate reasons, the court correctly ordered her son to remain in Indiana with his father, the Indiana Court of Appeals held.
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COA affirms order mother attend psychotherapy

June 12, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
Ruling on a matter of first impression, the Indiana Court of Appeals upheld a trial court’s decision to impose psychotherapy in a marital dissolution and custody order.
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No abuse by trial court in modifying maintenance payment terms

June 4, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals held that a trial court did not abuse its discretion when it denied a man’s petition to revoke spousal maintenance.
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COA affirms remand to prior judge over father’s objection

May 30, 2014
Dave Stafford
A special judge appointed in a paternity case ruled correctly that matters in the case remanded by the Court of Appeals should be heard by the prior judge who heard the evidence, the appellate court held in a second appeal on the matter.
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COA rules natural parents’ consent unnecessary in adoption

May 20, 2014
Marilyn Odendahl

Once a trial court found a child’s natural parents to be unfit, the court did not need to revisit that finding at an adoption hearing, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.

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Court orders hearing on child’s best interests

April 30, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed an order giving a father physical custody of his child. The child’s maternal grandparents had assumed guardianship of the child following the death of the child’s mother. 
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Judges deny stepfather’s request to adopt children

April 29, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
A mother’s deliberate decision to thwart the attempts of her ex-husband to communicate with their two small children supports the trial court’s decision to deny her current husband’s attempt to adopt the children, the Indiana Court of Appeals concluded Tuesday.
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Reaching an agreement at the round table

April 23, 2014
Marilyn Odendahl
Attorneys find collaborative law allows families to craft their own future.
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Grandparents lose adoption appeal in first-impression case

April 22, 2014
Dave Stafford
Grandparents who filed late motions challenging a stepfather’s adoption of a 6-year-old are not entitled to relief based on their argument they didn’t receive legal notice, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Tuesday in a family law case raising two issues of first impression.
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Parallel parenting provision divides COA

April 22, 2014
Marilyn Odendahl
In reversing a trial court’s modification of the custody agreement even though neither parent requested a change in custody, the Indiana Court of Appeals split over how much discretion a Parallel Parenting Time Order grants a court.
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Judges uphold custody award of non-biological child to stepfather

April 17, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
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.
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Judges disagree whether mother’s relocation is in good faith

April 17, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
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.
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Court splits over release of college transcript

April 14, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
A divided panel on the Indiana Court of Appeals dismissed Ball State University’s appeal of the order that it release the transcript of a student who left the school and owes tuition. The student’s mother added the university to her petition seeking to require her ex-husband to contribute to their child’s college expenses.
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COA affirms order allowing grandparent visitation with deceased son's daughter

April 9, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals Wednesday upheld the order granting visitation to the paternal grandfather of a child whose father killed himself before her birth. But one judge had reservations about the visitation arrangements.
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Court affirms custody modification after mom’s move

March 31, 2014
Dave Stafford
A Vincennes father lost his appeal of a modification of custody order that granted sole physical custody to his child’s mother after she moved 180 miles away to start a new family with her fiancé.
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Public comment invited on Indiana’s child support guidelines

March 24, 2014
IL Staff
The Domestic Relations Committee of the Indiana Judicial Conference is soliciting public input concerning recommendations for changes to the state’s child support guidelines.
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Court prevents mother from relocating to Hawaii with daughter

February 5, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals agreed with a trial court Wednesday that it is not in the best interests of a child to move to Hawaii with her mother and stepfather.
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Court affirms CHINS finding of child abandoned by parents

February 4, 2014
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals rejected arguments by parents that their son should have been found to be a child in need of services under Indiana Code 31-34-1-6 because he substantially endangers his own health or the health of his family members. The appellate judges affirmed the CHINS finding under I.C. 31-34-1-1 that the parents had abandoned the child once he was placed in an emergency shelter.
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Automatic modification violates custody statute, COA rules

January 27, 2014
Marilyn Odendahl
A trial court’s order automatically awarding custody of a minor child to the father was reversed by the Indiana Court of Appeals on the grounds the lower court’s decision violated the state’s custody modification statute.
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Can parents sue DCS? Yes, divided justices rule

January 1, 2014
Dave Stafford
A sharply divided Indiana Supreme Court decision that a family may sue the state’s child protection agency for negligence is sure to resonate within the Department of Child Services, attorneys familiar with the case said.
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Appeals court affirms out-of-state placement of child with father

December 27, 2013
Dave Stafford
A mother whose son was placed with his father in California after the Department of Child Services found her children to be children in need of services failed to convince a panel of the Indiana Court of Appeals that the placement was erroneous or that the DCS didn’t make a reasonable effort to preserve the family.
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Wife barred from inheritance because of adulterous relationship

December 19, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed that a woman’s relationship outside of her marriage prevents her from inheriting from her deceased husband’s estate.
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Justices decline to apply dollar for dollar credit for Social Security retirement benefits

December 12, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Supreme Court Thursday declined to revisit previous caselaw regarding crediting Social Security Retirement benefits to a noncustodial parent’s child support obligation. The justices affirmed the trial court’s decision to include the benefits in the custodial parent’s weekly adjusted income.
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  1. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) End of Year Report 2014. (page 13) Under the current system many local registering agencies are challenged just keeping up with registration paperwork. It takes an hour or more to process each registrant, the majority of whom are low risk offenders. As a result law enforcement cannot monitor higher risk offenders more intensively in the community due to the sheer numbers on the registry. Some of the consequences of lengthy and unnecessary registration requirements actually destabilize the life’s of registrants and those -such as families- whose lives are often substantially impacted. Such consequences are thought to raise levels of known risk factors while providing no discernible benefit in terms of community safety. The full report is available online at. http://www.casomb.org/index.cfm?pid=231 National Institute of Justice (NIJ) US Department of Justice Office of Justice Programs United States of America. The overall conclusion is that Megan’s law has had no demonstrated effect on sexual offenses in New Jersey, calling into question the justification for start-up and operational costs. Megan’s Law has had no effect on time to first rearrest for known sex offenders and has not reduced sexual reoffending. Neither has it had an impact on the type of sexual reoffense or first-time sexual offense. The study also found that the law had not reduced the number of victims of sexual offenses. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/app/publications/abstract.aspx? ID=247350 The University of Chicago Press for The Booth School of Business of the University of Chicago and The University of Chicago Law School Article DOI: 10.1086/658483 Conclusion. The data in these three data sets do not strongly support the effectiveness of sex offender registries. The national panel data do not show a significant decrease in the rate of rape or the arrest rate for sexual abuse after implementation of a registry via the Internet. The BJS data that tracked individual sex offenders after their release in 1994 did not show that registration had a significantly negative effect on recidivism. And the D.C. crime data do not show that knowing the location of sex offenders by census block can help protect the locations of sexual abuse. This pattern of noneffectiveness across the data sets does not support the conclusion that sex offender registries are successful in meeting their objectives of increasing public safety and lowering recidivism rates. The full report is available online at. http://www.jstor.org/stable/full/10.1086/658483 These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of conclusions and reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. People, including the media and other organizations should not rely on and reiterate the statements and opinions of the legislators or other people as to the need for these laws because of the high recidivism rates and the high risk offenders pose to the public which simply is not true and is pure hyperbole and fiction. They should rely on facts and data collected and submitted in reports from the leading authorities and credible experts in the fields such as the following. California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 0.8% (page 30) The full report is available online at http://www.cdcr.ca.gov/Adult_Research_Branch/Research_Documents/2014_Outcome_Evaluation_Report_7-6-2015.pdf California Sex Offender Management Board (CASOMB) (page 38) Sex offender recidivism rate for a new sex offense is 1.8% The full report is available online at. http://www.google.com/url?sa= t&source=web&cd=1&ved= 0CCEQFjAA&url=http%3A%2F% 2Fwww.cdcr.ca.gov%2FAdult_ Research_Branch%2FResearch_ documents%2FOutcome_ evaluation_Report_2013.pdf&ei= C9dSVePNF8HfoATX-IBo&usg=AFQjCNE9I6ueHz-o2mZUnuxLPTyiRdjDsQ Bureau of Justice Statistics 5 PERCENT OF SEX OFFENDERS REARRESTED FOR ANOTHER SEX CRIME WITHIN 3 YEARS OF PRISON RELEASE WASHINGTON, D.C. Within 3 years following their 1994 state prison release, 5.3 percent of sex offenders (men who had committed rape or sexual assault) were rearrested for another sex crime, the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Statistics (BJS) announced today. The full report is available online at. http://www.bjs.gov/content/pub/press/rsorp94pr.cfm Document title; A Model of Static and Dynamic Sex Offender Risk Assessment Author: Robert J. McGrath, Michael P. Lasher, Georgia F. Cumming Document No.: 236217 Date Received: October 2011 Award Number: 2008-DD-BX-0013 Findings: Study of 759 adult male offenders under community supervision Re-arrest rate: 4.6% after 3-year follow-up The sexual re-offense rates for the 746 released in 2005 are much lower than what many in the public have been led to expect or believe. These low re-offense rates appear to contradict a conventional wisdom that sex offenders have very high sexual re-offense rates. The full report is available online at. https://www.ncjrs.gov/pdffiles1/nij/grants/236217.pdf Document Title: SEX OFFENDER SENTENCING IN WASHINGTON STATE: RECIDIVISM RATES BY: Washington State Institute For Public Policy. A study of 4,091 sex offenders either released from prison or community supervision form 1994 to 1998 and examined for 5 years Findings: Sex Crime Recidivism Rate: 2.7% Link to Report: http://www.oncefallen.com/files/Washington_SO_Recid_2005.pdf Document Title: Indiana’s Recidivism Rates Decline for Third Consecutive Year BY: Indiana Department of Correction 2009. The recidivism rate for sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05%, one of the lowest in the nation. In a time when sex offenders continue to face additional post-release requirements that often result in their return to prison for violating technical rules such as registration and residency restrictions, the instances of sex offenders returning to prison due to the commitment of a new sex crime is extremely low. Findings: sex offenders returning on a new sex offense was 1.05% Link to Report: http://www.in.gov/idoc/files/RecidivismRelease.pdf Once again, These are not isolated conclusions but are the same outcomes in the majority of reports on this subject from multiple government agencies and throughout the academic community. No one can doubt that child sexual abuse is traumatic and devastating. The question is not whether the state has an interest in preventing such harm, but whether current laws are effective in doing so. Megan’s law is a failure and is destroying families and their children’s lives and is costing tax payers millions upon millions of dollars. The following is just one example of the estimated cost just to implement SORNA which many states refused to do. From Justice Policy Institute. Estimated cost to implement SORNA Here are some of the estimates made in 2009 expressed in 2014 current dollars: California, $66M; Florida, $34M; Illinois, $24M; New York, $35M; Pennsylvania, $22M; Texas, $44M. In 2014 dollars, Virginia’s estimate for implementation was $14M, and the annual operating cost after that would be $10M. For the US, the total is $547M. That’s over half a billion dollars – every year – for something that doesn’t work. http://www.justicepolicy.org/images/upload/08-08_FAC_SORNACosts_JJ.pdf. Attempting to use under-reporting to justify the existence of the registry is another myth, or a lie. This is another form of misinformation perpetrated by those who either have a fiduciary interest in continuing the unconstitutional treatment of a disfavored group or are seeking to justify their need for punishment for people who have already paid for their crime by loss of their freedom through incarceration and are now attempting to reenter society as honest citizens. When this information is placed into the public’s attention by naive media then you have to wonder if the media also falls into one of these two groups that are not truly interested in reporting the truth. Both of these groups of people that have that type of mentality can be classified as vigilantes, bullies, or sociopaths, and are responsible for the destruction of our constitutional values and the erosion of personal freedoms in this country. I think the media or other organizations need to do a in depth investigation into the false assumptions and false data that has been used to further these laws and to research all the collateral damages being caused by these laws and the unconstitutional injustices that are occurring across the country. They should include these injustices in their report so the public can be better informed on what is truly happening in this country on this subject. Thank you for your time.

  2. Freedom as granted in the Constitution cannot be summarily disallowed without Due Process. Unable to to to the gym, church, bowling alley? What is this 1984 level nonsense? Congrats to Brian for having the courage to say that this was enough! and Congrats to the ACLU on the win!

  3. America's hyper-phobia about convicted sex offenders must end! Politicians must stop pandering to knee-jerk public hysteria. And the public needs to learn the facts. Research by the California Sex Offender Management Board as shown a recidivism rate for convicted sex offenders of less than 1%. Less than 1%! Furthermore, research shows that by year 17 after their conviction, a convicted sex offender is no more likely to commit a new sex offense than any other member of the public. Put away your torches and pitchforks. Get the facts. Stop hysteria.

  4. He was convicted 23 years ago. How old was he then? He probably was a juvenile. People do stupid things, especially before their brain is fully developed. Why are we continuing to punish him in 2016? If he hasn't re-offended by now, it's very, very unlikely he ever will. He paid for his mistake sufficiently. Let him live his life in peace.

  5. This year, Notre Dame actually enrolled an equal amount of male and female students.

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