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Indianapolis Family Law Blog

Grandparents’ visitation may depend on timely filing

Indiana parents and grandparents, when at odds with one another, may turn to the law governing grandparents’ right to visitation of the grandchildren. However, the law may be more complicated than meets the eye. Proving that one is the actual grandparent of the child is not always enough to ensure the grandparent will prevail on his or her petition for visitation.

In the case of Jocham v. Sutliff, the grandmother sought visitation with the child of her deceased daughter. However, she did not petition for such visitation until after the child had been adopted by her stepmother. The Court held that the grandmother had no standing to petition for the visitation after the adoption had taken place, although she would have had standing had she filed the petition before the child was adopted.

What you need to know about Indiana child custody laws

Indiana adopted the Uniform Child Custody Act  in 1977. Under this Act, joint custody is an option for divorced parents; grandparents have visitation rights; and the preferences of children age 11 or older are taken into consideration during child custody hearings.

When it comes to custody arrangements, family courts can consider any factor having to do with the best interests of the child. In addition to the physical and emotional wellbeing of the child, typical factors include the following:

  • Parent more likely to care for the daily needs of the child
  • Parent more likely to maintain a loving and nurturing relationship with the child
  • Parental history, if any, of physical, drug or alcohol abuse
  • Parental history, if any, of criminal convictions and/or charges
  • Relationship of the child with his or her siblings
  • Educational consistency and continuity of the child

Questioning paternity? 3 reasons to find out for sure

You were excited the day your child was born, but over time, you've found out more about your wife's affairs before your child was conceived. Can you be sure that your child is actually related to you? Is it worth disrupting your family life to find out?

If you're considering getting a divorce from your wife, now is the time to determine if you're the father of your child. You need to establish paternity for a number of reasons, some of which are medical, legal and emotional.

Coping with the stress of divorce

Countless individuals in Indiana go through the process of divorce, and results of that process can vary greatly. Aside from overwhelming expenses and paperwork, there also exists an inevitable amount of emotional stress on the individuals going through divorce. Stress is not a topic to be brushed aside, and should be dealt with seriously. 

By first understanding the basics, those seeking divorce can better grasp their circumstances and plan during the process. Indiana Legal Services, Incorporated supplies useful information regarding divorce in the state. Indiana has a "no fault" divorce system, which means that neither party has to prove that the other did anything wrong to result in the separation. ILS also acknowledges that at least one spouse must be an Indiana resident for six months before a couple is eligible to file for divorce in the state. Overall costs for a divorce in Indiana vary depending on the situation, but the amount of time it takes for the divorce process to finalize is roughly 60 days.  

Highlighting Indiana’s grounds for divorce

Divorce has become an ever more common occurrence in both Indianapolis and throughout the rest of the U.S. Indeed, statistics show that nearly 40 percent of marriages end in such action. In fact, data shared by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention show that there were 813,862 divorces in the U.S. in 2014 alone. Yet one might assume that not every participant in each of those cases wanted his or her marriage to end that way. If one’s partner wants to dissolve his or her marriage, however, what is he or she to do?

Some may believe that people do not need a valid reason in order to seek a divorce. That assumption, however, may not be entirely true. Indiana state law actually requires that a couple have grounds for divorce before the dissolution of a marriage will be granted. These reasons can be found in Section 31-15-2-3 if the state’s code detailing family and juvenile law. They are:

  •          The irretrievable breakdown of a marriage
  •          Either one of the parties being convicted of a felony subsequent to being married
  •          One being found to be impotent at the time of the marriage
  •          One suffering from incurable insanity for a period of at least two years

On what grounds can parents be found unfit?

If you are a grandparent who is trying to get custody of your grandchildren in Indiana, you may need to prove the parents are unfit and have their right terminated before you can be granted custody. Proving a parent unfit is always done through the courts. Only a judge can make this legal declaration and end parental rights.

According to the Child Welfare Information Gateway, the basic grounds for taking away parental rights is that a parent is unable to safely provide adequate care for a child. There are many grounds upon which this determination may be based, such as a parent not being in contact with or supporting a child, abuse, mental illness that is not controlled and puts the child at risk and drug or alcohol dependency. Parents may be given the chance to correct such situations, but if they fail to do so and the situation becomes chronic, then the court may look into removing their parental rights.

How is child support determined in Indiana?

Like many dads in Indianapolis, you have every intention of doing all that you can to support your children. That includes even after you may have separated from their mother. At the same time, you also may need to support yourself as well as a new spouse and any children you may have with her. Thus, it is important for you to understand exactly how the state determines your child support obligation to ensure that you are not paying any more than you have to.

The guidelines regulating the Indiana child support calculator can be found in the Indiana Rules of Court. To start, the state determines the weekly gross income of both you and your spouse. This includes any money that you receive from:

  •          Salaries and wages
  •          Commissions, bonuses and overtime pay
  •          Partnership distributions and pensions
  •          Social Security, unemployment, workers’ compensation and disability insurance benefits, as well as severance pay
  •          Dividends, trust income, earned interest, annuity payments, capital gains, gifts and inheritances
  •          Alimony or maintenance payments

Father seeking custody of son following surrogate mother’s death

Recent years have seen the use of surrogates become a popular option for would-parents in Indianapolis who cannot have children themselves. However, surrogate cases do bring with them their own unique challenges. Typically, such cases involve the surrogate mother agreeing to forfeit parental rights to a child. However, if that does not happen, the she may continue to be recognized as being entitled to privileges such as custody and even child support.

Such is the case that transpired between a man and woman in Kentucky whose story is now making headlines as the man tries to regain custody of his son. Their story initially attracted attention when the woman delivered quadruplets for the man and his partner in 2002. The man’s partner, who was the children’s biological father, was awarded custody after the pair broke up, with the man being denied visitation. He had his own son with the woman’s help shortly thereafter. However, he later left the boy with the woman and her husband when he moved out of the state for health reasons. The woman was later awarded full custody of the boy. He has been paying child support to her since 2010. Now, seven years later, he wants custody of his son once again following the death of the woman late last year. The most recent ruling in the case saw a judge rule in favor of the woman’s husband.

What happens if my ex is refusing to allow visitation?

Just because your marriage is over doesn't mean you get to stop interacting with your former spouse. If you have children together, you will likely need to see each other occasionally for the rest of your lives, even after your children are adults. Not everyone handles this fact particularly well. While you're going through a divorce, it's common for disagreements to crop up between you and your former spouse. Child custody and visitation are often issues that cause a lot of problems between former spouses. If your former spouse has custody during the divorce, you may feel like you never see your children.

Typically, when one spouse files for divorce, that individual can request temporary custody until the courts make a final decision. The courts then typically issue a court order for child support that the non-custodial parent should pay. There is typically also a parenting time or visitation plan that allows the non-custodial parent to see and spend time with the children. Sometimes, however, the custodial parent refuses to comply with the order for visitation. If your ex is withholding your time with your children, you will need to take action to protect your rights.

Contesting presumed paternity

In Indiana, simply being married can establish the legal paternity of a child. According to the Illinois General Assembly, a man is assumed to be the father of any child born during his marriage or within 300 days of the end of his marriage. Even if the marriage is later deemed invalid, the paternity still stands. In some situations, parents may know the mother’s husband or ex-husband is not the father of the child. They may then wish to have the assumption of paternity voided. This presumed paternity can be challenged or made invalid in a couple ways.

First, it can be done through the court system by filing a complaint. The mother, presumed father or the child may file this complaint stating the paternity is not valid. This claim must be made within two years of the knowledge that the paternity is incorrect. Typically, the court will request a DNA test to be done. If the test shows the presumed father is not the biological father, then all responsibilities he has been ordered with, such as child support, can be voided, along with the presumption that he is the 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 guidance… Grandparent Rights
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