Representative Vanessa Summers, former Chair of the Indiana Child Custody and Support Advisory Committee, has introduced a bill to require scrutinize the mental health or substance abuse background of a person petitioning to serve as a guardian of a minor. Also, requires the court to enter findings of the evaluation of the parents as well as set standards that a parent must meet in order to seek modification or termination of the guardianship.
House Bill 1238 affects the following citations: IC 29-3; IC 31-30-2-1; IC 31-34-21-7.7 The synopsis is as follows:
Guardianship of minors. Requires a court to notify the department of child services (department) of a hearing regarding the guardianship of a minor if the minor is or was a child in need of services. Requires the department to evaluate a person who is filing a petition to serve as a guardian of a minor if the department knows the person has a history of mental health issues or substance abuse. Requires a probate or juvenile court to include in its order creating a guardianship of a minor any terms and conditions that a parent must meet in order to seek modification or termination of the guardianship. Provides that if the court has knowledge that the parent has a history of mental health issues or substance abuse, the court shall require the department to evaluate the parent and report the findings to the court.
If the court has knowledge that the parent has a history of mental health issues or substance abuse, the court shall require the department of child services to evaluate the parent and report the findings to the court.
Too often parents are choosing to have mental health issues, including those related to substance use and abuse, that are detrimental to their children. Personal accountability for mental health issues and behaviours has long been considered taboo. The time for ignoring the culpability for these self-induced problems has long passed. This legislation would provide for the evaluation and reporting to the court an assessment of the parent's mental health issues so that the court may make a more informed decision regarding the child.
Parents should be held accountable for the emotional disturbances that they choose or perpetuate which have an adverse effect on the well-being of their children. I applaud Representative Summers for her foresight and continued commitment to the well-being of children. This legislation should be supported.
This bill has been referred to Committee on Family, Children and Human Affairs which is chaired by Representative Kubacki.
If you are seeking to become a guardian of a child or your child may be subject to a guardianship then please visit my website and contact my scheduler to make an appointment to meet with me.
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More information about child custody rights and procedures may be found on the Indiana Custodial Rights Advocates website.
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