It is well known that legal lingo is not often the same as plain old English. If you are involved in a contested child custody case, either a divorce, post divorce, paternity, or third party custody action, you may have heard of what is called an “in camera” interview. Contrary to the plain meaning of the phrase, no cameras are actually used. An in camera interview is actually a meeting with the judge and the child, or children, of a custody matter, in the judge’s office (chambers) with no attorneys or parents present. In fact, the court is under no duty ...
September 26, 2013CD
During the course of domestic proceedings, paternity may be at issue. There are, of course, original paternity actions, but paternity may also be at issue for related cases. For example, a third party seeking to modify custody or get a guardianship of a child will need to explore if paternity has been established before filing. So, who can file a paternity action? A mother or expectant mother, a man alleging that he is the child’s biological father or the expectant father of an unborn child, a mother and man alleging he is her child’s biological father, filing jointly, an expectant mother and a man alleging he ...
June 27, 2013CD
In domestic law and litigation, the majority of decisions and findings are based on what is in the best interests of the child(ren)1. For example, in determining initial custody or whether to modify custody, the best interests of the child are paramount and the state statutes defining the elements/information to be reviewed use the language of “best interests”2. But what exactly is the definition of the best interest standard? Put simply, it is truly what is best for the child. However, this is obviously a vague standard that is open to much interpretation. The statutes help break down the standard, and ...
May 28, 2013CD
A recent House Bill to unanimously pass the Indiana House of Representatives addresses issues of guardianship and custody and the inclusion of information from the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) and Children in Need of Services (CHINS) in the guardianship and custody proceedings. House Bill 1041provides that if a person files a petition to establish or modify a guardianship, visitation, or child custody, that person shall submit a verified petition whether the person has been determined to be a perpetrator of abuse or neglect (substantiated by DCS); whether the child has been a victim of substantiated abuse or neglect; whether ...
March 7, 2013CD
During a pending paternity, divorce, or child custody matter, often, questions and concerns arise by one or both parties regarding the other parent, and their relationship, parenting style, dynamics, and parenting time with the child(ren). When these concerns arise, one way to approach the situation is to ask for a neutral, third party evaluator to look at both the child(ren ) and the parents and make any observations/recommendations regarding the family and proper parenting time in the child’s best interests. There are several types of these “evaluators”, and this blog will explore specifically the Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) and the custody ...
February 26, 2013CD
In Part I of this blog post, two of the “mistakes” that often occur by nothing more than human nature in a custody evaluation were discussed: (1) trying to answer psychological testing in a favorable way, and (2) coaching children to a degree before a custody evaluation. It is important to be aware of these because they can occur at the unconscious level–engaging in these behaviors without realizing it. By realizing these common mistakes or issues, a parent can make the most of his or her custody evaluation, and ultimately, to act in their child’s best interests. Below in Part II ...
July 26, 2012CD
One tool frequently used in a paternity or divorce, or post-paternity or divorce or custody modification, is requesting a custody/parenting time evaluation. An evaluation is helpful for many reasons. Globally, it is a tool used to allow a mental health professional to observe the parent-child relationship from a neutral, third-party position, and evaluate the family dynamic and make recommendations to the trial court what custody and parent time arrangement is in the child’s best interests. This third party evaluator often refers to other materials and statements of third parties to assemble a complete “family snapshot” with evidence that would otherwise be difficult ...
July 24, 2012CD
Testing Reliability of Information: Stereotype Induction and Source Monitoring A common occurrence in domestic (divorce or paternity) litigation involving children, from parenting time disputes to custody modification, is for a court to order a custody evaluation (A party may also be ordered to participate in Domestic Relations Counseling Bureau evaluation for this purpose if available. Ind.Code § 31-12-1-1. In addition, a party may seek a custody evaluation as a part of discovery under Ind. Trial Rule 35). Through the custody evaluation process, families will be evaluated, allowing this third party professional to make a report and recommendation regarding custody. One major component ...
March 15, 2012CD