Friday, January 25, 2013

2013 Indiana Senate Bill 202 Child Custody Modifications - Legislation Part 9

Senators Bray and Broden have introduced a bill affecting child custody modifications. Senate Bill 0202 affects the following citations: IC 29-3-2-7; IC 31-14; IC 31-17-2-26. The synopsis is as follows:

Petitions to modify custody and visitation. Provides that if a person files a petition to establish or modify a guardianship, visitation, or child custody, the person shall state in a verified petition whether the person has been the subject of a department of child services (DCS) investigation, whether the child has been the subject of a DCS investigation, or if the child has been determined to be a child in need of services.

This bill was prepared by the department of child services interim study committee during the summer of 2012.

Child custody placement is always based upon the pinnacle of factors being the arbitrary and subjective best interest of the child. While this bill may provide an additional cost and challenge to litigating parents it does serve a legitimate and useful purpose. That being to provide the court with additional information that may be of benefit to the judicial officer making the placement decision.

Indiana Rules of Evidence 201(b) as amended on 01 January 2010 allow a court to take judicial notice of any other docketed case sua sponte. This was upheld by the Indiana Court of Appeals in Paternity of P.R. and A.R.; H.B. v. J.R. However, the challenging party was still encumbered by having to be aware of those ancillary proceedings. Now the parties to custody litigation will be required to make verified statements as to any other cases involving the child. This will allow courts to more efficiently assess the dynamics of the parents and make a placement decision that should more reflect the best interest of the child.

In my posting yesterday about SB174 I suggested that language be added that requires a court to take notice of any pending or former child custody cases involving a party seeking to terminate a parent-child relationship based upon the allegation of rape. SB202 would be similar in effect requiring disclosure of prior cases by DCS involving the child of a custody, guardianship or parenting time modification or the parent or guardian of the child.

Generally, I am reticent to apply more power or credence to DCS as I believe that the agency performs in an intervention rather than a prevention construct which is not fully supportive of the best interest of children. With that said and knowing that we must still function with what we have the additional information providing to judicial officers making these determinations against the potential harm weighs in favour of disclosure. It is for these reasons that the senators and this bill should be supported.

If you are involved in a child custody modification proceeding and wish to ensure the best outcome for the child and yourself then please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me.

If you would like to follow my activities more closely then send a friend request to my Political FaceBook page.

Subscribe to this blawg.

More information about child custody rights and procedures may be found on the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates website.

©2008, 2013 Stuart Showalter, LLC. Permission is granted to all non-commercial entities to reproduce this article in it's entirety with credit given.

No comments: