Wife loses appeal of custody arrangement, contempt finding

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A trial court did not abuse its discretion when it found a wife in contempt of the court’s preliminary order regarding parenting time and visitation and when it entered a custody arrangement not requested by the parties, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled Wednesday.

In Jovon R. Richardson v. Joshua M. Richardson, 49A02-1410-DR-702, Jovon Richardson appealed the grant of sole legal and physical custody of her child with Joshua Richardson as well as her husband’s visitation with her minor daughter. After husband filed for divorce, the trial court’s preliminary order provided the parties joint legal custody of W.R., and husband visitation with stepdaughter L.O. But husband later alleged wife was in contempt of that order when she refused to let him see the children on two occasions when he was to have them.

At the final dissolution, wife was found in contempt and husband was given sole physical and legal custody of their child together and visitation with his stepdaughter.

The trial court did not abuse its discretion in granting husband visitation with his stepdaughter, Judge Terry Crone wrote. It is in her best interest to continue seeing the person she has considered her father since she was 2 years old. The judges rejected wife’s argument the trial court couldn’t adjudicate any matters involving L.O. because matters of custody and parenting time between wife and L.O.’s biological father have already been determined in a separate case. But in the instant matter, the trial court only ruled on issues involving L.O. and her stepfather. The parenting and custody orders involving the biological father remain intact.

The COA also affirmed the finding of wife in contempt, that she failed to demonstrate the trial judge was biased, and the trial court did not abuse its discretion in entering a custody arrangement that neither the wife nor husband sought.

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