Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Indiana Court of Appeals issues Stay in Scarberry Child Custody case

The Indiana Court of Appeals today issued a Stay in the child custody case of agnostic father Craig Scarberry. The case gained worldwide attention because Madison County Superior Court Master Commissioner George C Pancol and Judge Thomas Newman found that Scarberry was unfit to parent his children because he had changed his religious preference from Christian to agnostic. He was stripped of custody of his children in November 2010.

These are the two issues which I initially brought before the appellate panel:
1) Whether the trial court's order modifying Petitioner/father's joint legal custody of the parties three (3) minor children to awarding Respondent/mother full legal custody of the children based upon father's change in religious preference from Christian to agnostic and his religious practices, or lack thereof, which did not in any way actually harm or pose a substantial threat of harm to the children creates an establishment of religion or impinges upon father's freedom of religion inviolate of the establishment of religion clause or free exercise of religion clause of the First Amendment to the United States Constitution made applicable to the individual states by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution.
2) Whether there existed evidence to support the facts and whether the facts supported the findings that there had been a substantial change in one or more of the factors provided for by IC 31-17-2-8 and that a modification of custody reducing father's parenting time was in the best interest of the children.

Since the trial court's ruling in November the children's mother, Christine Porcaro, has discontinued medical treatment for the children including psychological counseling and the youngest child's treatments for Cerebral Palsy. The Madison County Department of Child Services concluded one investigation of Porcaro in December. Porcaro lied to DCS during their investigation which has been shown through subsequent documentation sent to DCS. Porcaro is now the subject of another DCS investigation.

Today's ruling returns legal decision making authority to Scarberry which will now allow him to resume the children's necessary medical treatments without interference from Porcaro. The next step in the process will be for the submission of appellate briefs. I will post additional information about this case as it becomes available.

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