When a child is born out of wedlock or a divorce with children is filed, there is often dispute about who should have physical custody. Physical custody is the parent whom the court orders to have the most time with child. The other parent gets parenting time under the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (herein, “IPTGs”). At the initial determination, there is no preference for either parent. This blog sets forth five mistakes parents routinely make in child custody litigation and in subsequent modification litigation. Maternal presumption: For a significant amount of time, the maternal presumption or tender years presumption was the ...
Tag: custody evaluator
December 3, 2020CD
In many cases, a neutral third party may be requested in contested custody cases to conduct a custody evaluation and make a recommendation to the court. The recommendation from the evaluator’s standpoint (after interviewing the children and parents, perhaps visiting the parent’s respective homes, and looking at documents, such as police reports) is a custody and parenting time arrangement that is in the children’s best interests. The problem this creates for one parent is that, normally, they will view the recommendation as a loss. This blog addresses ways to address a negative custody report (which is what the evaluator prepares ...
October 9, 2020CD
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
In many cases, parents want an immediate court date to modify custody due to what they believe is an “emergency” matter. This may range from denying parenting time on a significant holiday and the children not being able to attend an important family event to a new relationship one parent develops with a person who the other parent believes is a bad influence on the children and/or puts them in harm’s way. Clearly, Indiana Courts have the authority to conduct emergency custody modification hearings (and do) to look out for a child’s best interests. However, in most cases, these types ...
August 21, 2020CD
There are numus ways to have your child’s voice heard in court to aid a judge with making a custody determination or a modification decision. In most cases, an attorney or licensed clinical social worker can interview the family and children in order to make a sound recommendation to the court about what he/she believes is in the children’s best interests. This is because they are neutral to either side. However, in a small minority of cases involving high-conflict custody proceedings, the facts are convoluted and may reflect deeper underlying substance abuse issues masking mental health conditions. In these cases, ...
August 6, 2020CD
There is general agreement among the bench and bar that parents should not call their children as witnesses in their divorce of post-decree modification cases. Putting any child on the stand is a traumatic experience and one that usually makes them pick sides. On the other hand, while there are a lot of ways a child’s views can be made known to a court, such as a custody evaluation, sometimes with older children or in very unique circumstances, a party wants a judge to hear the child directly address the Court. This can be done outside the litigants’ presence. This ...
July 2, 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
In a paternity or divorce case where custody is in dispute, it is not uncommon for the parents to have differing opinions and/or negative opinions of one another. It is inappropriate for these feelings and opinions to be expressed to, in front of, or around the child or children. This is something that a majority of parents are aware of and try to constrain because they are aware it is hurtful and harmful to the children. However, in some instances, these negative and toxic feelings are expressed to the children. While this is not ideal and is harmful, it happens. ...
November 26, 2019CD
In high conflict custody cases, it is common to have a forensic Ph.D. level custody evaluator conduct an evaluation and make recommendations to the court as to who should have custody in the child’s best interests. These evaluations result in a written report. However, no professional is accurate all of the time, and occasionally an errant report issues. In short, we all make mistakes—even professionals. If you get an adverse custody evaluation in your case, this blog is focused on potential “fixes” for a custody evaluation that we have tried over time. Review of the custody evaluation by another expert. It ...
September 10, 2019CD