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Mom not in contempt over middle name change

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A trial court erred in finding a mother in contempt for not changing the middle name of her child, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled today. The appellate court remanded the case for consideration of whether the name change would be in the best interest of the child.

In Amy M. Swadner v. John W. Swadner II, No. 32A01-0801-CV-1, Amy Swadner appealed several issues following the dissolution of her marriage to John Swadner, including the trial court order for her to change the middle name of their son, E.S.S. to "Wakefield," a family name of the father, and finding her in contempt for failing to do so. A guardian ad litem appointed to the Swadner case issued preliminary recommendations for E.G.S., and E.S.S. E.S.S. was not born at the time of the dissolution. The recommendations included joint legal custody of the children, parenting time, and using Wakefield as E.S.S.'s middle name. John filed a petition for a contempt citation when Amy didn't give E.S.S. the middle name as recommended by the GAL.

The trial court found her in contempt, ordered her to change their son's middle name, and to pay $600 for John's attorney fees. There haven't been previous cases from Indiana addressing disputes of the first or middle name of a child, wrote Judge Paul Mathias, so the court looked to Indiana statute regarding name changes of a minor child and caselaw on petitions to change a child's last name. The appellate court determined that trial courts are required to consider the best interests of the child when deciding a petition to change a first or middle name. There was no finding to show whether the trial court considered the child's best interests when it held Amy in contempt, he wrote. In addition, Amy wasn't bound by the GAL's recommendation concerning the name change, so she can't be found in contempt for failing to change the middle name, Judge Mathias wrote. Even though the parents agreed to adopt the GAL's preliminary recommendations, they reserved the right to argue against any of them at a final hearing.

The Court of Appeals also addressed other issues raised by Amy on appeal: joint custody and parenting time, work-related child-care costs, her petition to relocate, and the division of the marital estate. The appellate court affirmed the adoption of the GAL's parenting time recommendations, the award of joint legal custody, the portion of child care expenses each party had to pay, and the denial of Amy's petition to relocate with the children to Fort Wayne. The trial court failed to consider the total equity in the marital residence and the full amount of John's 401(k) when it divided the marital assets. The Court of Appeals remanded with instructions to either recalculate the parties' marital estate following the statutory presumption of equal division or set forth its rationale for deviating from that presumption.

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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