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Indianapolis Family Law Blog

Reviewing Indiana's holiday custody schedule

With the onset of fall in Indianapolis comes the anticipation of the upcoming holiday season. However, many may not look forward to this time of year as others do (particularly divorced dads). Holidays are a time to be spent with family, and when one does not have consistent access to his kids during this season, feelings of isolation are often a constant companion. Indeed, according to information shared by Psychology Today, Christmas and its neighboring holidays produce the highest incidence rates of depression.

Yet divorced fathers do not need to feel as though they are excluded from seeing their kids during the holidays. Indiana state law provides clear guidelines as to visitation schedules during the holiday season as well as for other special occasions during the year. These can be found in Section II of the Indiana Rules of the Court. Specifically during Christmas time, the court determines a child's Christmas break to be from the beginning of the day school is dismissed for the holidays to the day before it resumes. Divorced parents are required to split custody evenly during this period. On odd-numbered years, the non-custodial parent will have custody during the first half of the break, and the second half during even-numbered years. On years in which Christmas Day does not fall within his custody period, he is allowed to have the kids from noon to 9:00 pm. 

The opioid crisis and grandparent adoption

The opioid crisis that has gripped the nation in recent years has inevitably also taken Indiana by storm. Although more crucially affected areas are the states of West Virginia and Ohio, Indiana is home to thousands of children who are forced to reassess their definitions of home itself -- all because of the opioid addictions and prescription drug-related deaths of their parents. In such situations, grandparents often come to the rescue. 

The Kokomo Tribune covers the recent shift in family dynamics in Indiana, where grandparents take custody when the parents of children are suffering from substance abuse. The Kokomo points out that this occurrence is increasingly common in Indiana, as well as in other states affected by the opioid crisis. Oftentimes, the Indiana Department of Child Services intervenes when parents fail to supply basic necessities and healthy and safe environments for their children. Not only do these actions affect children; grandparents must forfeit future plans in order to best meet the needs of their newly-adopted grandchildren. The Kokomo adds that the numbers of children living with grandparents as a result of their parents' opioid addictions are only climbing: as of this year, 110,000 Hoosier children are living with their grandparents, and that number has snowballed in the last decade.

Making co-parenting work during the busy school year

Setting terms for child custody and visitation can be one of the most complicated and emotional aspects of a divorce. You and your spouse both know you'll be better off separated, but it can be difficult to figure out how to share time and custody of your children. The time constraints of the school year can place additional strain on your co-parenting arrangements.

Adjusting to sharing custody of your children can take a while. Summer vacation allows for alternating weeks or even days with your spouse. You may have both gotten to take the kids on vacation. Now that school's back in session, however, there's a lot to consider. Who's responsible for getting them on and off the bus? What happens if there's less free time to spend with your children?

The details of fathers' rights

In addition to the stress that divorce procedures often induce, deciding parental rights can be an incredibly challenging ordeal. There are many cases in which fathers do not gain adequate or fair rights to their children. Similar to other states in America, Indiana prioritizes the best interests of children involved in divorce, and fathers may choose to move forward through legal processes in order to gain partial or full custody of their children. 

In a special report on fathers' rights, WSBT22 News recognizes that, contrary to what many might assume, fathers have equal rights to custody of their children under law. Nevertheless, the report also reveals that some fathers still claim their rights are not equal to that of mothers. One Indiana resident admitted to the news station that, despite these alleged equal rights, the court has yet to grant him more time with his children. In this case, the children requested more time with their father, as well. The report goes on to state that, after divorce, 5 out of 6 mothers become the custodial parent; only 1 in 6 fathers gets the same treatment. The father's rights movement initially set out to address this imbalance, but another deep-seated issue lies in the financial burden the system inflicts upon low-income fathers, who generally pay 55 percent of their gross income if legally identified as non-custodial parents.

Dual-licensing: a new approach to adoption

When it comes to child adoption in America, each state contains different guidelines and agencies. Regardless of state, however, adoptions may be either domestic or from other countries. Similar to many states, Indiana encourages those interested in qualifying for adoption to also apply for the license to foster.

When looking to adopt, many ask, why gain the license to foster, as well? Adopt US Kids, a project of the US Children's Bureau that provides resources to help child welfare systems connect children in foster care with families, clarifies this recent approach called "dual licensing." According to Adopt US Kids, some benefits of dual-licensing include:

  • The recognition that most children adopted from child welfare are adopted by their foster parents
  • Parents can gain experience parenting, particularly in cases where a child has experienced trauma
  • The minimizing of number of home moves children must make     

Modifying your child support obligation

Like most dads in Indianapolis, you want what is best for your kids no matter your familial circumstances. That is why you likely were quick to agree to the child support obligation handed down during your divorce proceedings. The ramifactions that come with this obligation can be great (both legally and to your children). That is why so many divorced dads come to us here at Schembs Law after having lost their jobs or seen their income reduced concerned about what might happen if they are unable to make their child support payments. 

Some of those whose financial situation has changed drastically like yours may simply think that if they do not have the money, no one can force them to pay. Maintaining such an attitude could potentially land you in legal hot water. Do not give in to the temptation of ignoring your child support obligation following a loss in income. Rather, simply ask the court to reconsider your agreement. 

Why children need their grandparents

During the turbulent time of divorce, young children in Indiana may be susceptible to doubts about their own self worth and the stability of familial relationships. While parents have the primary responsibility to offer comfort and support, grandparents may play a significant role as well. They may accomplish this by spending quality time with their grandchildren throughout the process, and in the years to follow.

According to Parenting, grandparents often provide a positive example of social expectations and relationships. Particularly during divorce proceedings, children often crave a stable environment in which to recuperate emotionally, and time spent with a loving grandparent may help fulfill that need. A grandparent who has maintained various positive relationships through the course of several decades may be a positive role model for the children as they seek to develop and rebuild their own relationships. Additionally, close interaction with adults other than their parents may teach children how to conduct themselves in social settings. They may also learn how to interact better with members of the extended family.

Ex parte orders explained

As a single or divorced father in Indianapolis, your nightmare scenario may be having your custody or visitation agreement modified or terminated without notice. While some may tell you that this is impossible, many of the clients that we here at Schembs Law has assisted in the past have faced this scenario. The court may, depending on the circumstances of your case, decide to issue an ex parte order. This is essentially an emergency ruling made at the request of another for which you do not have to be notified of prior to being put into effect. Understanding when such orders may be issued may help you in challenging one that has been requested in your case.

Typically, ex parte orders are issued when there are concerns about the potential for domestic violence or sexual abuse. When such orders are requested in regards to a change in child custody, the Indiana Commission on Judicial Qualifications has set clear guidelines on how judges should handle such petitions. These state that your ex must clearly show that immediate and irreparable injury, loss or damage will occur before you are able to be heard in opposition to the modification of your custody agreement. Furthermore, security funds must be in place for damages or costs that you may incur due to being wrongfully restrained by such an order.

Father's rights in Indiana

Whether stemming from divorces or unwed situations, child custody can be complex and difficult to determine. Indiana's child custody laws rely on a number of factors, and the court may give parents physical custody or legal custody.

Indiana also holds divides custody into sole custody and joint custody, where sole custody allows a single parent to oversee a child, and joint custody allows both parents to be involved. The court also determines other factors, including the child's age and sex and the child's interests. Along with establishing paternity, the court considers these factors before deciding the rights of the child's father.

Client Testimonials

  • My husband and I have a 12 year old grandson whose academics and social needs were being neglected. We turned to Schembs Law & Associates to help preserve our grandsons rights. With Schembs & Associates leadership and guidanceā€¦ Grandparent Rights
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