In most civil litigation, when you are sued, such as in a divorce, which is technically a complaint, you have to provide an answer to avoid a default judgment and losing.1 However, in divorce, there is no requirement to provide a cross-petition (or answer in a technical sense).2 Yet in a few instances, it may make sense to cross-petition. This blog addresses cross-petitions and their uses and some common myths surrounding cross-petitions. Factual mistakes: Perhaps the most common reason to file a cross-petition is that the divorce petition has factual mistakes that should be corrected to have accurate filings before the ...
May 28, 2020CD
While many types of evidence might help establish a substantial change1 to modify physical custody, some key statutory and evidentiary rules may help you understand how or if your proposed “evidence” might be offered and admitted at trial. For instance, a child’s attendance records, if he or she has excessive absences, may be evidence to show a substantial change, as the custodial parent is not getting the child to school. However, all evidence has rules governing if it can be used. In this blog post, three (3) key limits on evidence in child custody modification proceedings are analyzed. The first is ...
May 20, 2020CD
In domestic cases, trial courts are given wide discretion to decide matters initially, such as when the parties divorce or later in child-support and/or physical and/or legal custody modification proceedings. Further, because so much time, emotion, and judicial resources go into domestic cases, Indiana’s appellate court gives trial courts vast leeway to judge the credibility of witnesses when deciding issues.2 Even if the Court of Appeals might have decided the case differently, it defers to domestic courts on how much weight to assign to a witnesses’ credibility. However, the appellate court’s do not defer to the trial court if it applies ...
May 6, 2020CD
With Governor Holcomb’s “Directive to Stay at Home” order taking effect at 11:59 p.m. on Tuesday, March 24, 2020 to slow the COVID-19 epidemic, parents with children born out of wedlock and from divorce face uncharted waters. This is because some states with stay-at-home or shelter-in-place orders have prevented custody and parenting time exchanges. There is simply mass confusion. This blog covers a reasonable application of how parents in Indiana should conduct themselves in exchanging the children during the period (until April 6, 2020) of the stay-at-home Directive. The most important aspect of this Directive is that custody and parenting time ...
March 24, 2020CD
Whether it be from personal experience or a movie you saw on television, most of us have some understanding of the concept of custody. However, when people think of custody, most of the time they are only thinking of physical custody. But, physical custody is just one part of child custody as a whole. Who makes decisions about school? Religion? Medical? Do these decisions have to be agreed upon? What if we cannot agree or have differing views on the subjects. These are questions that many don’t think about until a custody proceeding begins, and it can be confusing to ...
March 10, 2020CD
In today’s blended society, it is common for parents to have different religious beliefs and practices. However, if they both feel strongly about their religion and divorce, a war can erupt over how the children are raised at and after divorce. This is where the concept of legal custody comes in. On divorce or in paternity cases, the court can award joint legal custody. Legal custody covers decisions about the children’s medical care, religious upbringing, and educational training. Legal custody then has nothing to do with which parent will receive physical custody and the other parent parenting time. This blog ...
February 28, 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
The short answer is, yes, using marijuana can cause you to lose custody of your child. However, this is not a simple black and white rule. The ever-changing legality of marijuana use from state to state has caused pause in the Indiana legal landscape. Things such as the recent announcement by Marion County that it will not prosecute simple marijuana possession charges are part of the reason a simple yes or no cannot answer this question. It is important to know that when it comes to making a custody decision in a child’s best interests, judges treat each case as ...
November 8, 2019CD
Take action now! The holidays are just around the corner. A plan for holiday parenting time needs to be determined before it’s too late. Especially if travel plans are involved now is the time to work out a schedule that will avoid additional stress during the holidays. Even if the parties follow the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines for holidays, avoid any last-minute glitches by planning ahead for the division of holiday time. Of course, with any holiday parenting time plan, the parties should ultimately consider the best interests of the children so that they are able to see family from ...
October 22, 2019CD
In most post-divorce cases, there comes a time when a non-custodial parent believes it is “time” to go back to court and move to modify custody. One major mistake parents make is equating the betterment of their life with a substantial change for their children to modify child physical custody. Custody modifications are not uncommon, and presupposing you are not making this mistake, what you need to establish to likely prevail in your modification case is based on three components that are explored in this blog post. Is this your case? The basis. While the advanced age of the children (i.e. ...
September 23, 2019CD