Top 10 Mistakes Made by Parents Engaged in a Custody Battle

Child Custody Photo

Top 10 Mistakes

1.  Speaking negatively about the other parent in front of the children.

During a custody battle, it is understandable that parents are angry with each other.  While it may feel therapeutic to rant about your children’s other parent, especially if the other parent is speaking negatively about you, it is best to bite your tongue, especially in front of your children.  Your friends and family may also feel the need to rally by your side, however, negative comments about the other parent by anyone, in front of the children, should be strongly discouraged.  The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines state that one of a child’s basic needs is “to be free from having to side with either parent and to be free from conflict between parents.”  Instead of getting caught up in the “he said, she said,” focus on  the well-being of your children.  Hearing negative remarks about the other parent may make the children feel as if they need to pick a side.  Each parent should encourage the children to love and respect the other parent.

2.  Not exercising your parenting time.

If you have parenting time with your children, exercise your rights!  You should try and spend as much time as possible with your children, and establish a routine.  Make sure that you “parent” and help with homework and assign chores.  Oftentimes, parents feel guilty for the current situation, or try to garner favor with the children, by trying appease the children’s every whim.  This is not parenting and will negatively affect the children.

Also, failing to exercise your parenting time may trigger the Court to believe that you are filing for custody out of spite, or that you are not serious about your request.  If the other parent can establish a history of rescheduled or missed parenting time, this will only serve to hurt your case.  It is important to make your children priority.

3.  Interfering or denying communication with the other parent.

Parents going through a custody battle will often feel bitter and vindictive towards the other parent, and many times, a parent will seek to “punish” the other parent for the current situation.  Unfortunately, parents utilize the children in an effort to exercise control, and one way this is done is by limiting access to the children.  This, of course, not only serves to “punish” the other parent but has negative affects on the children and their relationship with  both their parents.  The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines states that “both parents shall have reasonable phone access to their child.”  The Guidelines further state that this communication should be private and without interference from the other parent.

4.  Encouraging your children to spy on the other parent.

Oftentimes, parents utilize their children’s time with the other parent as an opportunity to gather information about the other parent that they could possibly use in Court.  The Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines, state that the children have a basic right “to have a relaxed, secure relationship with each parent without being placed in a position to manipulate one parent against the other.”  Court proceedings should not be discussed with the children, nor should the children be asked to provide information about the other parent.  Do not place the burden of adult issues on the shoulder of the children.

5.  Failing to pay child support.

Many parents believe that parenting time and child support are dependent on each other.  Maybe the other parent had denied you parenting time, and you think, why should I pay him or her my hard earned money when he or she doesn’t let me see my children?!  While it may be easy to think this way, it is important to understand that failure to pay child support is not grounds to limit or deny parenting time.  Furthermore, you should not stop paying child support if the other parent is limiting your parenting time.  Refusing to pay child support may affect the livelihood of the children, and the children should always come first.  Again, punishing the other parent by limiting parenting time because the other parent isn’t current on child support is to the detriment to the children.  It is always important to act in the child’s best interest and not paying child support or limiting parenting time with the other parent is not in the child’s best interest.

6.  Abusing drugs or alcohol.

Evidence of drug or alcohol abuse can be detrimental to your case and can serve to show the Court that you’re doing something that could put your children at risk.

7.  Lying.

Do not make up or exaggerate allegations or stories about the other parent in hopes of strengthening your case.  In legal proceedings, honesty is always the best policy.  Any lies will likely come back to haunt you and ultimately hurt your case, not to mention the psychological damage to your children.

8. Not abiding by the Court’s order.

Did the Court order you to take parenting classes or go to counseling?  Failure to abide by the Court’s order will only serve to show your disrespect for the Court.  Always be willing to show the Court how far you are willing to go for your children, even if you may not agree with the Court’s decision.

9.  Not hiring an experienced Family Law attorney.

Engaging in a custody battle is not something that should be taken lightly and the best route, to ensure that your interests and your time with your child is protected, is to hire an experienced Family Law attorney.  While engaging the services of an attorney may seem expensive, representing yourself may cost you more in the long run.

10.  Not educating yourself.

While it is important to hire an experienced Family Law attorney it is still imperative to know and understand the rules and law, specifically the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines and the Indiana Child Support Guidelines.  Take the time to educate yourself, and you will feel more prepared, knowledgable, and will know what is expected of you, and what you should expect.

What will happen to my Facebook page after I die?

Social Media and Death

Social Media and Death

Facebook announced a new feature that allows Facebook users to choose a Legacy Contact to manage their Facebook pages after their death.  A Legacy Contact, with permission, may download an archive of photos, posts, and profile information that the deceased shared on Facebook, and may also write posts, respond to friend requests, and update profile pictures and cover photos.

Users may also choose to have their Facebook account permanently deleted after death.

The State of Indiana does not have laws to handle online presence after death, instead each social media company, like Facebook, creates its own policies to address a user’s death.  An option for social media users is to share a list of user names and passwords to  their social media accounts with a trusted family member or friend with instructions as to the management of those accounts after death.  There are also companies, such as the Legacy Locker feature of, that store your information for you and distribute the information to a Legacy Contact, after your death.

The fate of your social media accounts is just one amongst many issues that can and should be determined during one’s lifetime.  Estate Planning is an important tool to protect your family and your assets.  To begin the Estate Planning process and speak with an experienced and knowledgable Estate Planning attorney, call (219) 776-2662 today for a FREE consultation!

NJ Court Orders Divorced Parents to Pay Estranged Daughter's College Expenses… Could This Happen to Me in Indiana?

Is your son or daughter preparing for college?  You may have to prepare… to pay for it.

Is your son or daughter preparing for college? You may have to prepare… to pay for it.

A New Jersey case between 21 year old, Caitlin Ricci, and her divorced parents reached its conclusion on Monday, December 8, 2014 when a Judge ruled that Ricci’s parents must pay $16,000 a year towards her college expenses even though Ricci and her parents have been estranged for almost two years.  The Ricci case is similar to another New Jersey case, that of 18 year old Rachel Canning,  which made headlines earlier in 2014.  Rachel Canning claimed to have been “thrown out” of her family home on her 18th birthday and soon after sued her parents for her private school tuition and impending college expenses.  A New Jersey judge denied Canning’s request for an emergency order that would have required her parents to pay her expenses.  Canning later reconciled with her parents and quietly withdrew her complaint.  The judge in the Canning case was quoted as saying, “Do we want to establish a precedent where parents live in basic fear of establishing rules of the house?” The Canning case treaded on uncharted territory with the request that married parents support children beyond the age of emancipation, something that is already done in Indiana for children of divorce or paternity.

While there are numerous differences between the Ricci case and the Canning case in NJ, the difference to focus upon is that fact that Ricci’s parents are divorced and Canning’s parents were still married.  Ricci’s father, Michael Ricci, submitted an article to Yahoo! Parenting on December 10, 2014, and in his article he states, “Do you realize that if you are married in the state of New Jersey, you are not under any legal obligation to pay for college? But, if you get divorced, you must contribute?”  Unbeknownst to many, the same can be said for the State of Indiana.

Indiana Code section 31-16-6-6 states that a parent or guardian, or the child, may file a petition for education needs until the child becomes twenty-one (21) years of age if a child support order was issued before July 1, 2012. If a child support order was established after June 30, 2012 the parent or guardian, or the child, may file a petition for education needs until the child becomes nineteen (19) years of age.  Similar to the state of New Jersey, Indiana may obligate parents of children of divorce or parents of children in paternity actions to pay post-secondary education expenses while married parents do not have the same legal obligation.

However, for these cases, trial courts, in accordance with Indiana Code section 31-16-6-2, may take into account the following when determining the obligation of the parents: (1) the child’s ability and aptitude, (2) the child’s ability to obtain loans and other sources of financing, (3) the ability of each parent to obtain additional financing, (4) special medical, hospital, or dental expenses of the child, and (5) current child support payments already being made.  Courts also attempt to determine what the family would have done had the parents stayed intact when determining how much of a child’s post-secondary expenses should be allocated to the parents.  Indiana Courts can also order the child to pay a percentage of his or her own post-secondary educational expenses, and can place limitations on these expenses, such as limiting the costs to that of a four-year in-state university.

If you pay or receive child support under an Indiana order and have children approaching the age of nineteen (19) or twenty-one (21) take note of the law in Indiana regarding post-secondary expenses and govern yourself according.  Call the Law Offices of Anna K. Christodoulakis at (219) 776-2662 for a FREE consultation!


Indiana Court of Appeals Rejects Grandparents Argument Regarding Notice of Step-Parent Adoption

The Indiana Court of Appeals ruled on Tuesday, April 22, 2014, that grandparents who filed late motions challenging a stepfather’s adoption of a minor child, are not entitled to relief because the grandparents did not have legal custody of the child and therefore notice of the proceedings was not required.

Indiana Code  § 31-19-9-1 outlines the consents required for an adoption of a child under the age of eighteen (18) years of age.  The question in this case was in regards to  Indiana Code § 31-19-9-1(a)(3) and whether “lawful custody” is the equivalent to the phrase “legal custody” or if the Grandparents as de facto custodians of the child fell under the protection of the statute.  The Court, in its decision, stated that common law exhibits a disfavoring of the right of any party other than a child’s parents to object to an adoption, and found that “lawful custody” is equivalent to “legal custody,” that is, court-ordered custody.

As instances of grandparents caring for grandchildren become more and more the norm, it is important for grandparents to understand that they have limited rights which they can protect by hiring an attorney.   However, it is important to note that there is a presumption that parents should have custody of their children and courts are hesitant to grant third-party custody or guardianship of children.

Call The Law Offices of Anna K. Christodoulakis at 219-776-2662  today for a FREE consultation!