The United States Supreme Court has long recognized the “fundamental right of parents to make decisions concerning the care, custody, and control of their children.”1 This fundamental right to parent is why the Indiana Courts place the burden of proof on the Department of Child Services (“DCS”) when it comes to proving that a child is a child in need of services (“CHINS”). Specifically, our Indiana Supreme Court has found that DCS must prove three basic elements for a CHINS finding.2 Those elements are: (1) that the parent’s actions or inactions have seriously endangered the child; (2) that the child’s ...
April 1, 2019CD
If you are divorced, and your children plan to attend college, the divorce court can order you to contribute to college expenses after the children turn eighteen.1 If your dissolution decree does not address the division of college expenses, there is significant potential for argument and litigation over what amount each parent should pay; how the child will contribute; and what expenses will be included in an order to pay college expenses. Indiana courts have wide discretion over the amounts that each parent may be required to pay, as well as what types of expenses will be included. This blog ...
September 12, 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
The Impact Upon Children in a High Conflict Custody Case This blog discusses the importance of trying to resolve disputes in high conflict custody cases to try to avoid emotional harm to the children. Often in high conflict cases involving child custody disputes, the single most important factor is ignored by the parties: “what is in the best interest of the child”. Many times, the conflict begins because one party, the non-custodial parent “wants” something, usually more time with the child, and the custodial parent is absolutely opposed. Both parties may have a variety of reasons for their positions. But ultimately the ...
January 17, 2018CD
In Indiana, it a now clearly crime to send (disseminate) matter harmful to “minors”.1 In 2009, this statute was held unconstitutional because the age of consent to sexual activity was 16.2 The legal reasoning was if one can consent to sexual activity at 16, one can receive nude photos. In the recent Thaker case, Mr. Thaker sent an explicit photo of his genitals to a 16-year-old girl in Oregon. After learning about the photo, the FBI contacted the Indiana police department, who proceeded to go to him and arrest him. Mr. Thaker was charged with a Class D felony dissemination3 of matter ...
October 11, 2017CD
As part of a divorce, custody, guardianship or other family law matter, children’s medical records are often sought to address any number of issues. Perhaps the child’s caregiver needs certain medical records for a child to be enrolled in school or an activity/sport. A parent may need the children’s medical records to determine whether child support should continue past the age of nineteen (19) if there is a severe medical issue where the child is incapacitated and there is a divorce action pending.1 Nevertheless, an individual’s medical records, including those of children, are protected under state and federal law, specifically HIPAA.2 ...
October 10, 2017CD
In polling a room full of people who have experienced divorce, some will contend their ex-spouse is "crazy". Part of this is gallows humor and a way to cope with this past or present stressor; there are those for whom the situation will be a reality. This blog post addresses divorce and mental health statistics means to obtain a diagnosis or assessment under the law, and key implications for the divorcing parties. First, divorce itself is now recognized as a traumatic experience and possible cause of an identity crisis; in the scenario of high-conflict divorce, it may even be such a ...
March 17, 2017Adam Hayes
Many countries are signatories to the Hague Convention on the Civil Aspects of Child Abduction1; and the treaty has been ratified between these countries. When this is the case, a child wrongfully removed from his or her country of habitual residence may be subject to proceedings to return proceedings, generally brought in the country where they have been taken. However, while there are always circumstances relevant to removal, a few constitute legal, affirmative defenses that will allow the judicial or administrative authority to not be bound to order return. These are the focus of this blog and are highly fact sensitive ...
March 8, 2017Adam Hayes
Stability and continuity of home life for children after divorce is a strong policy found in Indiana’s custody modification statutes and case law. Specifically, a parent who does not have physical custody can file a petition to modify such custody to him or her. However, the non-custodial parent must demonstrate a substantial change in circumstances and it is in the children’s best interests to modify physical custody. Typically, of the eight statutory factors1 a court may consider, general dislike or issues with a step-parent—standing alone—is not sufficient to meet this burden. In fact, psychological research and experiences of family law attorneys ...
August 2, 2016Adam Hayes
In 2006, the General Assembly enacted a new statute addressing relocation of parents in the child custody provisions of the Divorce and Paternity Act. The relocation provisions required certain notice to be given to a non-relocating parent who may object. This was interpreted by the Indiana Supreme Court in 2008 in the Baxendale case.1 In general, Baxendale, directed a trial court may consider relocation as a part of the best interests factors and modify custody to the non-relocating parent. Since this statute and the Baxendale case decision, three key mistakes or concerns every parent in a relocation case should be aware ...
June 23, 2016Adam Hayes