Custody Dispute? You Need A Lawyer
We encourage parties facing issues involving the custody of children to obtain counsel to aid in the litigation of custody disputes. Because the court's order has such a profound effect on the lives of the parties and their children, we cannot emphasize enough the importance of presenting sufficient evidence and developing an adequate record.
In this case the mother had primary custody of a child. She was in the Navy. She was transferred to Florida and needed to move with the child. Mother filed a Notice of Intent to Relocate (a requirement in Indiana). Father objected to the child moving to Florida and a custody battle ensued. Father seemingly 'won' and was granted primary custody.
He won right? Well, not quite. Father and Mother both represented themselves at the custody hearing and, according to the Court of Appeals opinion, failed to provide the necessary evidence at the custody hearing. The trial court did the best it could with what was provided and made a ruling in favor of Father. However, Mother hired an attorney and appealed. The Court of Appeals remanded the case, told the parties to maintain the status quo and ordered "further proceedings," i.e. a new hearing with additional evidence.
The troubling part of this case is that the parties and the child do not have resolution. Mother's moving plans may have been put on hold, but, considering that she serves in the military, that may not have been possible. She incurred appellate attorney fees, and will incur fees on remand. Father, who thought he had won custody, is now in limbo and will likely incur attorney fees as well. Who is paying what amount of child support? Finally, the child may have been sent back and forth between parents and/or schools as a result.
This case illustrates that if you have a custody dispute, you can't afford not to have a lawyer. Click on the title of this post to read the entire case.