In today’s world, busy courts have limited time to hear cases. The average case load in Indiana, that most judges manage, is in the thousands. In divorce and paternity cases, these judges have to decide child physical and legal custody, in the children’s best interests. Due to the fact many custody disputes have significant amounts of data relevant to the case and the children’s best interests, in many cases, the parties will elect to have a forensic child clinical psychologist appointed to make a custody evaluation report to the court. This single document, in many cases, eliminates the need for ...
August 28, 2020CD
Courts routinely order custody evaluations in cases so a person trained with what is key in a child’s psycho-social development can investigate the case and speak with the children and make a custody recommendation to the court of what is in the child’s best interest. Some judges place great value on a custody evaluation and others do not. Nevertheless, if you receive an unfavorable custody evaluation, it is not necessarily the end of your case. These three sound approaches to address an unfavorable custody evaluation depending on your case. When it is apparent the evaluator did not consider (or have available ...
February 27, 2020CD
In particularly contentious child-custody cases, a child custody evaluation may be a great investment in your case to help achieve the custody arrangement you seek. This is because, at the end of the process, the evaluator makes recommendations to the court about what custody arrangement is in the children’s best interests. There are different levels of evaluators that you should consider when requesting a custody evaluation. This blog covers the three most common types of evaluations. Perhaps the most common custody evaluation is completed by a Guardian Ad Litem1 as allowed for in the Divorce and Paternity Acts. In many cases, ...
February 27, 2020CD
Every person has done something in their past they are not proud of. Most people have seen or done things they think only they know, things they will not talk about—to anyone, at any time, for any reason. However, in today’s digital world, particularly with skilled forensic private investigators, almost nothing is truly a secret. So, in the ugly world of divorce, even if you do not think it is probable, certain “skeletons” have a remarkable way of coming out of the closet to negatively define your divorce (or paternity case). Once you have lost your credibility with your judge ...
September 7, 2018CD
In many, if not most contested paternity or divorce cases, the issues that led up to the breakdown in relationship are somewhat apparent and would not require a forensic psychologist evaluation. For instance, one parent may lose his job, and this creates untenable financial stressors on the other parent, or the parent who lost the job may slump into depression. Perhaps most common in marriage today is; marriage is not a necessity as it was a few decades ago—to survive—given social programs that have created safety nets that did not exist in the past. Marriages now are viewed in years ...
August 6, 2018CD
Perhaps everyone who reads this blog will agree that routine and “sameness” are considered aspects of our daily life. The old adage, “change is hard”, best captures this concept. The same is true for children of divorce and paternity cases. The initial determination of which parent should have custody is “gender neutral” and gives no parent a preference for preliminary custody in the trial court’s initial determination. However, after the case is decided, where custody may change, the children usually establish a custodial routine on who they stay with and when. Any changes or disruptions to the schedule are significant for the ...
July 11, 2018CD
Not long ago the trend was filing for divorce mid-winter and in early spring. However, in our ever-changing mobile society, everything is different. The same appears to be true for divorce. Working from home and/or blended school calendars may be a few factors that account for shifting trends of when divorce is filed. This blog explores key reasons why filing divorce in the summer may be a prudent consideration for some couples when it was not a norm or even considered in the past. What is the right time? As a practical matter, and first, if the parties do not have children, ...
June 13, 2018CD
In child custody disputes, whether initially made with a divorce or paternity filing, or on with a modification petition, the court decides child-related issues before it by determining what is in the best interests of the child. With most cases, a party seeking custody, as well as the court, want to “hear” from the child in some way. This blog explores the four key ways a child’s voice, views, and positions can be presented to a court for it to consider in making a custody decision in the child’s best interests. Are these useful in your case? The first is to ...
June 7, 2018CD
While children are resilient and “bounce back”, modifying physical custody from one parent to another parent is a major life factor that may impact the child’s fundamental sense of safety, security, and stability. For this reason, there are two common factual situations where custody modification does not make a strong legal case. The first is where the non-custodial parent’s life has improved, but this has had little impact on how the kids are doing in the custodial parent’s care. Remember, the legal focus for modification is on the children’s best interest. So, for instance, a parent who has achieved long-term sobriety ...
May 22, 2018CD
In child custody proceedings, Indiana trial court judges award or modify custody by considering all1 of the evidence in order to determine a custody arrangement in the child’s best interests. There are several statutory considerations for the court to weigh, including the physical and mental health of the parents, as well as any other facts or circumstances that may factor into a child’s best interests as it relates to custody.2 For years, “soft” drug use, such as smoking marijuana, has been considered in awarding or modifying custody in Indiana.3 Further, serious drug addiction/abuse issues sometimes came before trial courts and ...
March 22, 2018CD