Family Law

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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Mother who was abused may be required to help fund father's supervised visitation

November 27, 2013
Dave Stafford
The Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled that a domestic violence victim whose earnings since have increased may have to pay for supervised child-visitation services that the father is unable to afford.
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Court properly declined to modify spousal maintenance agreement

November 26, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
An ex-wife must pay her husband $4,000 a month in spousal maintenance under an agreement she signed, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Tuesday, affirming a trial court’s decision to deny the woman’s request to modify the maintenance.
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Appeals panel rules former same-sex partner has standing to seek visitation

October 31, 2013
Dave Stafford
A former same-sex domestic partner of a woman who gave birth to a child has standing to seek visitation, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Thursday, reversing a trial court in an opinion begging lawmakers to speak to the rights of same-sex couples in parenting disputes.
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Man didn’t prove ex-wife misappropriated child support payments

October 25, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
Sidestepping a question of first impression in a child support case, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the modification of child support due to insufficient evidence. The father in this case believed his ex-wife was using child support money to fund her veterinary practice.
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Commission on Courts to look at confidentiality of paternity cases

October 17, 2013
IL Staff
The Commission on Courts will tackle several issues at its meeting Oct. 21, including the confidentiality of juvenile court records in juvenile paternity cases.
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Ex-wife not entitled to half of pension earned after divorce

October 15, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals held Tuesday that a trial court did not impermissibly modify a property settlement agreement or decree, but simply clarified that the intent of the parties was to divide the marital property acquired during the marriage and before the final date of separation.
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IU Maurer to participate in national family mediation study

October 14, 2013
IL Staff
The Indiana University Maurer School of Law and IU’s Department of Psychological and Brain Sciences have been awarded a four-year, $763,686 grant from the National Institute of Justice to study safety concerns in family mediation.
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COA still finds supervised visitation argument moot

October 10, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
After acknowledging that a father did file a reply brief arguing the issue of supervised parenting time was not moot, the Indiana Court of Appeals on rehearing still found his argument to be moot.
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Participation in travel soccer league supports modifying custody

October 9, 2013
Jennifer Nelson
The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the denial of a mother’s request to modify a custody order entered in 2007 when her children were in grade school, finding their participation in travel soccer leagues and the distance between the parents’ homes warrants a change.
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Guardian registry pilot to launch

October 9, 2013
Dave Stafford
Indiana soon could break new ground with the introduction of one of the nation’s first databases of guardians and their wards. The development is raising hopes for improved oversight of vulnerable populations along with concerns about their privacy.
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Attorney emerges as leader in international adoptions

October 9, 2013
Dan Human, Indianapolis Business Journal
Michele Jackson marched into an internship in 1999 hoping to deliver a swift blow to international injustices against women and children. The 24-year-old Indiana University law student didn’t realize how unpleasant the topics would be.
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Justices: Child support agreement must apply changing guidelines

September 26, 2013
Dave Stafford
A father whose annual income included varying bonuses and commissions is obligated to provide child support payments in line with evolving guidelines, despite a support agreement made a year earlier than the rules were revised, the Indiana Supreme Court ruled.
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  4. Mr. Levin says that the BMV engaged in misconduct--that the BMV (or, rather, someone in the BMV) knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged fees but did nothing to correct the situation. Such misconduct, whether engaged in by one individual or by a group, is called theft (defined as knowingly or intentionally exerting unauthorized control over the property of another person with the intent to deprive the other person of the property's value or use). Theft is a crime in Indiana (as it still is in most of the civilized world). One wonders, then, why there have been no criminal prosecutions of BMV officials for this theft? Government misconduct doesn't occur in a vacuum. An individual who works for or oversees a government agency is responsible for the misconduct. In this instance, somebody (or somebodies) with the BMV, at some time, knew Indiana motorists were being overcharged. What's more, this person (or these people), even after having the error of their ways pointed out to them, did nothing to fix the problem. Instead, the overcharges continued. Thus, the taxpayers of Indiana are also on the hook for the millions of dollars in attorneys fees (for both sides; the BMV didn't see fit to avail itself of the services of a lawyer employed by the state government) that had to be spent in order to finally convince the BMV that stealing money from Indiana motorists was a bad thing. Given that the BMV official(s) responsible for this crime continued their misconduct, covered it up, and never did anything until the agency reached an agreeable settlement, it seems the statute of limitations for prosecuting these folks has not yet run. I hope our Attorney General is paying attention to this fiasco and is seriously considering prosecution. Indiana, the state that works . . . for thieves.

  5. I'm glad that attorney Carl Hayes, who represented the BMV in this case, is able to say that his client "is pleased to have resolved the issue". Everyone makes mistakes, even bureaucratic behemoths like Indiana's BMV. So to some extent we need to be forgiving of such mistakes. But when those mistakes are going to cost Indiana taxpayers millions of dollars to rectify (because neither plaintiff's counsel nor Mr. Hayes gave freely of their services, and the BMV, being a state-funded agency, relies on taxpayer dollars to pay these attorneys their fees), the agency doesn't have a right to feel "pleased to have resolved the issue". One is left wondering why the BMV feels so pleased with this resolution? The magnitude of the agency's overcharges might suggest to some that, perhaps, these errors were more than mere oversight. Could this be why the agency is so "pleased" with this resolution? Will Indiana motorists ever be assured that the culture of incompetence (if not worse) that the BMV seems to have fostered is no longer the status quo? Or will even more "overcharges" and lawsuits result? It's fairly obvious who is really "pleased to have resolved the issue", and it's not Indiana's taxpayers who are on the hook for the legal fees generated in these cases.

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