Most divorce cases resolve before trial. However, a small number proceed to trial or have post-divorce custody modification matters. In either case, there are three ways to undermine the strongest case that are inherent in human nature. This blog explores the matters and demonstrates why they are harmful. Avoid them.
First, in original divorce cases, it is easy to make off handed comments or otherwise inappropriate testimony in how to divide assets. Indiana, along with other states, is not based on fault. Disparaging (or trying with objection) the other parent for having an affair, becoming disconnected, or not working to full financial potential to maintain or enhance the marital estate is an example.
Generally, this is only relevant if the other party “wasted” the marital estate by gambling it away or spending the money on illicit drug use, which may be a basis for deviation. In these cases, such testimony is helpful to a court. Judges simply do not want parties fighting their emotional battles in court, but want to hear the case to decide it under the law. They like everyone else have limited time to do their duty to Indiana’s citizens and businesses who bring cases before the court.
Second, in an original custody case (on divorce or paternity), a dispute about custody has to focus on the children’s best interests. The fact that some parent has some behavior, activity, or other issue that is not agreeable and may have even caused the divorce (such as being a disconnected spouse) is not relevant unless it impacts the parent’s relationship with the children. This is very hard to separate for courts, but judges need to understand how acts and omissions impact the children, not just the other spouse.
Third, and very familiar to attorneys handling post-divorce custody modification cases (child-issues can be litigated if there has been a substantial change for the child’s minority) is bringing up issues that occurred in the past before the last custody order of the court. Sometimes a party tries to bring up an issue that is still an open “wound” but has been decided by the court, such as the original reason the marriage dissolved.
Judges must hear custody modifications and decide the issues on issues that have arisen since the last custody order, not before. And these new issues must demonstrate a substantial change not necessarily be a onetime problem.
We hope you find this blog post helpful in being a more educated legal consumer as it relates to common divorce and child custody issues that arise in litigation. Avoiding these, unless otherwise directed by counsel, will help you provide the judge with the information he or she needs to decide the case under the law. This is what is guaranteed to citizens by the United States and Indiana Constitutions and other laws. Ultimately, this will help you achieve closure and assist with the children’s best interests.
This blog post was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. We hope you find it helpful in assisting you with understanding Indiana’s legal system, child custody and divorce in general. This is neither a solicitation nor legal advice. It is generally an advertisement. Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. advocates practice domestic and paternity throughout the State of Indiana.