In divorce and paternity cases, the term “custody” has a number of different meanings. If you are contemplating divorce or in the process, understanding this term is key. If you are divorced or paternity is established, you might think you understand the “custody” terms you agreed to in reaching an agreement or as ordered by the court; but if you and the other parent don’t have a meeting of the minds on the meaning of custody connected with your “custody” order, it will cause conflict ...
In many divorce and paternity cases, a continuum is presented where the parent-child relationship may be strained to non-existent. Parents want to see their children. Children want to spend time with their parents. This is a basic bond of parent-child relationships and why parents have a fundamental right to rear and make decisions for their children—one of the oldest and most protected rights under the United States Constitution. For these and many other reasons, supervised visitation (by a third party) of a parent with his or her children ...
The Indiana Department of Child Services (“DCS”) is tasked with investigating thousands of reports of abuse or neglect of children each year. This agency is literally the protector of children from certain parents. However, perhaps the oldest and most fundamental of constitutional rights is to raise one’s children as he or she sees fits, despite what the state may think otherwise or would do differently. While DCS has a legal duty to investigate each and every ...
April 26, 2017 / Child Custody
Family law, like every other profession, has its own language; a language that can be misunderstood, or may stand for many things depending on the context in which it is used. This blog covers the five key definitions that are used correctly, incorrectly, or a combination of both, in child custody proceedings. The better you understand these terms, the more informed litigant you will be. The first term is an umbrella term generally referred to as “child custody.” Child custody refers ...
What Parents Should Know About Their Child If They Are Picked Up And “Charged” As A Juvenile Delinquent
April 14, 2017 / Juvenile Delinquency
What You Know May Hurt You and Impact the Rest of Your Child’s Life Juvenile delinquency means that a child, but for his young age, is alleged to have committed a delinquent act which would be a crime if he or she is an adult. The parents’ decisions for the child at the beginning of such a matter may literally define the course of the child’s life. This blog post explores some of the inherent traps ...
Let’s face it. There are some parents that just cannot agree on certain issues related to their child, such as extracurricular activities or (legal) discipline of the child. As a result, Indiana has started utilizing a newer method to address co-parenting in these situations. This blog post focuses on parallel parenting, a concept targeted toward parents experiencing consistent conflict due to their inability to agree to virtually anything, sometimes reflective of different life views that led to divorce and, others, the on-going “wounds” from the breakup of the marriage. Parallel ...
April 5, 2017 / Child Protective Services
Parents have a right to raise their children without state interference under what has been referred to as the most fundamental right in the United States Constitution. However, there is a point where parental decisions cross the line into abuse or neglect or children engage in activities that would be criminal if they were adults. When this occurs, Child Protective Services (CPS) may be notified by any concerned third party and are required to be notified by certain individuals and entities such as medical ...
What If the State Fails to Allege and Prove the Passage of Statutory Time Requirements to Terminate a Parent’s Right to His or Her Children
February 22, 2017 / Parental Rights
The point of a civil or criminal trial—overall--is to ensure substantive and procedural due process and protection of fundamental and key constitutional principles. However, no trial court is infallible and most trials do not occur without legal errors being made. This is why some errors may be deemed “harmless” and not afford a new trial or reversal. Stated differently, this means that unless a given error ...
Four Legal Categories “Third Parties” Who May Have Legal Rights to Contact with Children Other Than Parents
February 16, 2017 / Third Party Custody
Without question, more third parties--from neighbors to grandparents--are caring for or raising others’ children. What are their rights to contact, visitation, parenting time, and custody of the children they are caring for and/or raising? This is a complex factual and legal question since the United States Constitution provides biological (and adoptive) parents with the fundamental (i.e., high level) right to raise their children; this legal right trumps the fact a third party may do a markedly better job. This blog post explores ...
February 14, 2017 / College Tuition/Expenses
A controversial topic across the United States with divorced families or children born out of wedlock is: “Who pays for post-secondary education?” Post-secondary education is generally defined as education beyond high school. A recent national case in New Jersey brought this matter to the forefront. Here Caitlyn Ricci sued her parents for tuition at Temple University and lost that battle.1 This blog covers post-secondary education as a policy and as it applies in Indiana. In many states, the duty to pay any support for a child, ...