Father who moved before divorce retains custody

The Indiana Court of Appeals Friday affirmed a trial court’s custody order in favor of a father who moved to Arizona, then California, before his wife filed for divorce.

Judge John Baker wrote for the panel in Amanda Dillon v. Matthew Dillon, 55A04-1407-DR-344, that Amanda Dillon’s argument that her ex-husband failed to notify the court of his relocation failed. The panel held that Indiana Code chapter 31-17-2.2, which governs relocation in child custody cases, doesn’t apply here.

“In this case, Father moved before Mother filed for divorce. It is clear that Father did not have custody at the time he moved, and he could not have been 'seeking custody' at the time he moved since he moved before this cause came into being,” Baker wrote.

Baker wrote that the trial court’s custody order considered many factors and made findings that support its conclusion that custody with father was in the daughter’s best interests. The panel said mother’s arguments on that issue were an invitation to impermissibly reweigh the evidence.

“To be sure, the trial court has made a difficult decision in this case.  However, its order displays a breadth and depth that has not only assisted our review, but assured us that we would be foolish not to defer to its judgment,” Baker wrote of the judgment from Morgan Superior Judge Christopher L. Burnham. “Simply put, it is clear that the trial court has thought this one through.”   


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