Recently in Family Law Category

Spotlight on ICSG: The 6% Rule

July 27, 2015

Baby at Doctor's Checkup.jpgDivision of medical expenses is always a big issue for our clients. Generally, the issue of coverage and insurance premiums is included in child support calculations because the party who provides insurance coverage is entitled to credit for the weekly amount paid. Therefore, the biggest remaining issue between parents is how to divide uninsured medical expenses for the children. When parties can agree, they have the ability to be flexible about how they want to divide these expenses, and there are many good reasons why parties would want to tailor the way they divide these expenses to their specific situation. In some cases, one party has supplemental coverage, a Health Savings Account, Flex Spending account, or other employer benefits that make sense to exhaust before dividing expenses between parties. Parents of children with specific medical issues may also need to specifically plan how uninsured expenses will be divided throughout the year.

When parents cannot agree or do not believe their case requires special accommodations, we advise clients of the 6% Rule, which is how the Indiana Child Support Guidelines ICSG suggest dividing uninsured medical expenses. While there is no guarantee that a judge would order parties to divide uninsured expenses pursuant to the 6% Rule, it is a generally accepted method and endorsed by the ICSG. Therefore, there is a good chance that a party's judge is familiar with the rule and frequently implements it in his/her child support orders. Per the 6% Rule, the parent who is assigned to pay controlled expenses, usually the custodial parent and the one receiving child support, is required to pay an initial portion of ordinary uninsured health care expenses. The theory behind this is that the parent who is receiving child support can use a percentage of the support toward ordinary uninsured health care expenses. Therefore, the parent who is assigned to pay controlled expenses is expected to pay uninsured medical expenses up to 6% of the annual basic child support obligation, which can be calculated from the parties' completed child support worksheet. Beyond that, the parties divide any additional uninsured medical expenses pursuant to their pro rata shares of the parties' total gross income, which is also listed on the parties' completed worksheet.

One major caution we always have for clients who follow the 6% Rule is the importance of good record-keeping. As with any other co-parenting issue, parties have to exchange information, billing statements, and receipts in order to determine if one parent has met his/her 6% threshold and how bills should be divided. Without a proper exchange of information and accurate record keeping, it can be difficult for an attorney to help resolve a payment dispute under this rule.

What do you think of the 6% Rule? Have any questions? Tweet us @HARDENJACKSONLAW.

photo credit: Check-up via photopin (license)

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

Obergefell v. Hodges and Its Impact in Indiana

June 26, 2015


marriageequality.jpg On June 26th, 2015, the United States Supreme Court issued an historic ruling that invalidated state bans on same-sex marriage and held that same-sex marriage is a Fourteenth Amendment right. The decision results in the United States becoming the twenty-first country in the world to nationally legalize same-sex marriage. What does this landmark decision mean for Indiana, where same-sex marriage has been legal since the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the state's same-sex marriage ban in the fall of 2014?

The Indianapolis Star recently published an article that answers the above question. The article notes that although same-sex marriage is already legal in Indiana, the Court's ruling will impact our state through the nationwide recognition of same-sex marriages performed in other states. Previously, marriages granted in states such as Indiana, where same-sex marriage was legal before the ruling, were not recognized by states that banned same-sex marriage. The article cites the following quote by Indiana University Maurer School of Law Professor, Steve Sanders, to illustrate this concept:

"If you're married in one state, you're married everywhere. That rule has long applied to virtually all heterosexual marriages. What this ruling means is same-sex couples cannot be excluded from the protection of that rule."

Otherwise, the ruling should not prompt any changes in Indiana. The state has granted marriage licenses to same-sex couples and has legally recognized same-sex marriages performed in other states since the fall of 2014. Stay tuned to our blog for more exciting legal developments in the wake of this groundbreaking decision.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

photo credit: https://richarddawkins.net/2014/10/next-gay-marriage-fight-religious-exemptions/

Our Mother's Day

May 15, 2015

mother.jpgIn addition to being a family law firm, we also have families. So often, our firm sees families in emotional turmoil due to legal battles with divorce, child support, and child custody. Mother's Day was a chance for all of us to connect back with our firm's roots: family. Each of us spent time with our mothers and/or our children and remembered why it is that we fight for the rights of our clients. Everyone deserves the family support and peace of mind that we all enjoy.

After Mother's Day, our law firm reflected on what we did and what "motherhood" means to us.


Q: What did you do for your mom [Sunday]?

Our paralegal Jamie Haddad shared her Mother's Day experiences and a little bit about her amazing mom:

"I took myself and my kids back home to New Castle where my mom lives. We went out to lunch and spent the day together playing with the kids and spending time with my step-grandmother. My Mother is my rock and we don't get to spend near enough quality time together. She is my biggest cheerleader and the best grandmother any kids could ask for."

Our attorney Amanda Glowacki added her simple (but sweet) Mother's Day festivities:

"I had a spa night with my mom last week, and my whole family went out to brunch on Sunday."

Michele Jackson, one of our of-counsel attorneys who concentrates her law practice in adoption, surrogacy, and international family law also described her Mother's Day activities:

"I went to dinner with my mom and sent her flowers. I also bought her a necklace at an auction that belonged to a lady who was homebound for the past 6 years and my mom visited her every week until she passed away. My mom was so happy to receive the gift because it reminds her of the love she shared with this lovely woman. I appreciate my mom because she demonstrates a heart for others. She continually finds ways to give of herself through her church, visiting with the elderly, and going on service trips to other countries to work on building projects. She watches my children and she even spent a month in Africa with my two boys before I was able to bring them home after their adoption."


Q: What did your kids do for you [Sunday]?

Jamie shared her Mother's Day surprises and the gift that touched her most of all:

"My son and his baseball team presented their mothers with a flower and a sweet little card before the start of their tournament games for the weekend. My daughter gave me a sweet painted clay pot with a flower that she made at preschool. When I woke up Sunday morning both kids remembered to tell me 'Happy Mother's Day', with no prompts from anyone. That was the most special gift of all."


Q: What does "being a mom" mean to you?

This question could take an entire doctoral dissertation to fully answer but Jamie did her best to explain her feelings on motherhood:

"Being a Mom means so many things to me. It is my purpose, they are my heart and my soul. There are no limits to what I will do for my children. As a Mother I am their caregiver, their guidance, their protector, their teacher, their emotional punching bag if they need to release frustrations, fears or sadness. I am their disciplinarian when need be. I am their shoulder to cry on and their pillow and blanket. I am their biggest fan and once they are grown I hope I am still all of those things but in the end when they are grown, I want to be their oldest and dearest friend."

Attorney Michele Jackson (Super-Mom by night) simply responded with several quotes that beautifully capture what every mom who adopts wants to convey to her children:

"A child born to another woman calls me mommy. The magnitude of that tragedy and the depth of that privilege are not lost on me." - Jody Landers

"Not flesh of my flesh, Nor bone of my bone, But still miraculously my own. Never forget for a single minute, You didn't grow under my heart - but in it." - Fleur Conkling Heylinger


We hope you enjoyed your Mother's Day and remember to enjoy the little things when you are surrounded by brokenness.


What did you think? Tweet your Mother's Day stories @HARDENJACKSON.

Photo credit: My daughter on my knee via photopin (license)

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

"Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day"

April 13, 2015

Mother & Daughter.jpgWhile we often discuss the family turmoil surrounding divorce, custody battles, and child support, sometimes taking a step back and simply focusing on your children is the best move.

On Thursday April 23rd, it is "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day", a day that strives to empower the youth of America and encourage children to create new pathways to their own success. Perhaps most importantly, this day also serves as an opportunity for the workplace to emphasize the importance of education to children still in school. This day is a great chance for you to show your children that you care about their future.

In preparation for "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work" Day, here are some quick tips and fast facts on making the most of your day inspiring your children.

1. Before Thursday April 23rd, have your child go to the Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Foundation website and fill out their "dream calculator".
2. Make sure you review this article by Jacqueline Smith at Forbes on the "Do's and Don'ts" of taking your kids to work. As Smith states, "This day gives [kids] the opportunity to learn and be exposed to their dream jobs." It also debunks the common myth that you can only take your children to work - you can take anyone in the recommended age range of 8-18 (children of friends, family, neighbors, etc.).
3. Work from home? Check out this article by the Huffington Post on how to celebrate "Take Our Daughters and Sons to Work Day".
4. Check out this list of frequently asked questions.
5. Tweet your pictures with this year's hashtag, "#MPOWR".
6. Have fun and make the most of it!

Let us know what you think and tweet @HARDENJACKSON.


The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas of family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact us at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these blog posts are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

photo credit: Canterbury Cathedral Precinct - Aug 2014 - Beautiful Mother & Daughter Candid via photopin (license)

Practical tips to avoid holiday parenting time problems

December 5, 2014

Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for CMD close.jpgDuring the holiday season our office receives tons of questions from our clients about how to handle holiday parenting time. Attorney Christine Douglas helps individuals resolve a variety of legal issues that arise in families. With over 18 years experience guiding her clients through these types family law matters, Ms. Douglas offers advice on how to avoid holiday parenting time problems.

  1. Use common sense. Be flexible and focus on your child. If you are focusing on "your rights" or the other parent, you are not thinking about your child. The holidays should not be a battleground---ever! Be the better parent and avoid all confrontation. If the other parent is unwilling to be flexible with the holidays, then you should be flexible. You are not being taken advantage of--you are thinking about your child. You are helping create wonderful memories for your child and not holiday memories of on-going fighting and bitterness.
  2. Keep a diary of dates and times of parenting time and especially any modifications. Make sure all conversations about parenting time is limited to email so you have a record of who requested what, when parenting time was requested and how it was decided. If you ever have to go to court in regard to parenting time, you can show the Judge your efforts to be cooperative, reasonable and flexible.
  3. Do not focus on "the day". Who gets the child for Christmas Day seems to cause a lot of problems. Although Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines tries to resolve this issue, strict application of the Guidelines sometimes creates unrealistic results. If you cannot agree on who gets Christmas Day, be the better parent and celebrate Christmas on a different day with your child. Family is what makes Christmas special not a calendar day. If you want to see your child run down the stairs on Christmas morning, celebrate another day as Christmas morning before or after December 25th.
  4. Many school holiday breaks this year begin on Friday December 19, 2014 and end on Sunday, January 4, 2015---17 overnights. The IPTG state that the custodial parent shall have the first half of Christmas vacation and the other parent shall have the second half. Christmas vacation begins two hours after the Child is released from school for break and the second half ends at 6:00 p.m. on the day before school begins. The Guidelines do not state the exact time that the first break ends and the second week begins. Additionally, IPTG state that the non-custodial parent gets Christmas Day from noon to 9:00 p.m.
If you and the other parent cannot agree on how to divide this year's holiday parenting time, you may want to consider the following example holiday parenting time calendar:

parenting time calendar.jpg

If the other parent has shown no ability to be flexible or reasonable, AFTER the holidays contact a family law attorney and discuss what options (legal and non-legal) are available to you. Before I recommend that a client seek a Judge's assistance to resolve a problem, I often recommend that they try to resolve the problem on their own so they are more credible when they go to court.
If you would like to discuss the special circumstances surrounding your situation and possible legal and non-legal options, please contact me for a legal consultation. Legal consultations usually take about one hour, but I am happy to spend as much time with you as you need. I charge by the hour and during your consultation I will discuss and evaluate your specific situation and advise you on a path forward.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact Leah Potter at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

Attorney Christine Douglas - Trained Parenting Coordinator

June 17, 2014

CMD close.jpgHarden Jackson is pleased to announce that attorney Christine Douglas has been trained as a Parenting Coordinator and is now accepting clients. Christine practices solely in the area of family law and is a Certified Family Law Specialist, as certified by the Family Law Certification Board. She has extensive mediation and trial experience and completed the American Bar Association's Family Law Trial Advocacy program in Denver, Colorado. She has been practicing for over sixteen (16) years and has extensive litigation experience managing heavy volume caseloads in complex, contested family law matters.

A Parenting Coordinator (PC) is a court-appointed "special master" tasked to assist parents with the development, implementation, and monitoring of parenting plans in hopes of reducing re-litigation. PCs also help parties and their children adjust to divorce and resolve impasses between parents. A PC's authority is specifically defined by the Court through an Order of Appointment prepared by the parties and their attorneys. The order outlines which matters a PC can address as well as confidentiality, length of appointment, authority to request information, fees, etc.

The attorneys of Harden Jackson Law are devoted to servicing clients throughout the Indianapolis area and the state of Indiana in all areas family law, including divorce, custody, child support, property division, paternity, post-divorce modifications, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, simple wills, adoption, surrogacy and other areas of assisted reproductive technology law. For more information, please contact Leah Potter at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.

Attorneys from Harden Jackson recognized by SuperLawyers

February 13, 2014

Harden Jackson is pleased to announce that three attorneys from our firm have been recognized by SuperLawyers for 2014.


Thumbnail image for Thumbnail image for MLJ WEB2.jpgMichele Jackson has been named to the "Rising Stars" list as one of the top up-and-coming attorneys in Indiana for 2014. Ms. Jackson chairs the firm's Adoption and Reproductive Law Practice Group and focuses her practice in adoption as well as assisted reproductive technology law matters.


AEG WEB.jpgAmanda Glowacki has been named to the "Rising Stars" list as one of the top up-and-coming attorneys in Indiana for 2014. Ms. Glowacki assists individuals with all areas of family law, including dissolution of marriage, post-dissolution modifications, and custody cases. She is also a registered domestic relations mediator providing mediation services to families facing the changing circumstances which accompany dissolution of marriage, custody and parenting time modifications, child support modifications and paternity determinations.


CMD close.jpgChristine Douglas has has been selected to the 2014 Indiana Super Lawyers list. Each year, no more than five percent of the lawyers in the state are selected by the research team at Super Lawyers to receive this honor. Christine Douglas practices solely in the area of family law and is a Certified Family Law Specialist, as certified by the Family Law Certification Board.

The selection process for Super Lawyers employs a rigorous, multiphase process. Peer nominations and evaluations are combined with third party research. Each candidate is evaluated on 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. Selections are made on an annual, state-by-state basis.

Harden Jackson, LLC is a Carmel law firm providing personalized service with a responsive and compassionate approach. As effective and experienced litigators, the attorneys work with clients to develop strategies for negotiating settlements, while always preparing for litigation if necessary. The practice assists clients in all areas of family law, adoption and reproductive law matters. For more information, please contact Leah Potter at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com .

Harden Jackson Announces New Attorney, Of Counsel

November 1, 2013

logo_atty website.jpgCARMEL, IN - November 1, 2013 -Harden Jackson is pleased to announce that Christine M. Douglas has joined the firm as Of Counsel.

Christine M. Douglas practices solely in the area of family law. She is a Certified Family Law Specialist, as certified by the Family Law Certification Board. Christine helps individuals resolve a variety of issues that arise in non-traditional and traditional families. Her practice includes: adoptions, custody disputes, domestic partnership agreements, divorces, grandparent visitation, guardianships, parenting time enforcement, paternity cases and premarital agreements. She has extensive mediation and trial experience and completed the American Bar Association's Family Law Trial Advocacy program in Denver, Colorado. She has been practicing for over sixteen (16) years and has extensive litigation experience managing heavy volume caseloads in complex, contested family law matters

To read Christine's full bio, please click here.

Harden Jackson, LLC is a Carmel law firm providing personalized service with a responsive and compassionate approach. As effective and experienced litigators, the attorneys work with clients to develop strategies for negotiating settlements, while always preparing for litigation if necessary. The practice assists clients in all areas of family law, adoption and reproductive law matters. For more information, please contact Leah Potter at 317.569.0770 or www.hardenjacksonlaw.com.

Setting chores for your children by age

September 20, 2013

kids chores.jpgSometimes it's difficult to determine how much responsibility to give your children. Assigning household chores to your child sends a great message - they are contributing something important to the family. This can benefit your children's personal development, they learn to take responsibility and to take pride in their work. Scheduling regular chores also helps establish a routine for your children as well.

Below you will find a guide on how to set chores for your children by age. This document also addresses chores in co-parenting relationships.

How To Set Chores By Age (2).doc

photo credit: Lotus Carroll via photopin cc

What are your rights as a grandparent in Indiana and what the tabloids are getting right

September 6, 2013

kim zolciak.jpg
By: Amanda E. Glowacki

People watching Bravo's spin-off series featuring Real Housewife of Atlanta Kim Zolciak this past season saw firsthand that it is possible for grandparents to petition a court for visitation with their grandchildren. During the show's first season, Kim was shocked to be served with a petition from her parents requesting that the Court enter an order for grandparent visitation because Kim was estranged from her parents since her wedding to NFL player Kroy Biermann. For Kim, and many others served with similar petitions, it can be shocking to be told that grandparents may be able to demand visitation with their grandchildren. While the roots of such visitation used to be grounded in third party custody petitions, i.e. people other than the child's parents, many states, including Indiana, have specific provisions regarding the grandparent visitation.

In 2000, the Supreme Court weighed in on the issue as it pertained to a Washington state law. The case of, Troxel v. Granville, 530 U.S. 57 (2000), involved a vastly different fact pattern than what was portrayed on Zolciak's show in that the petitioning grandparents were paternal and requesting visitation rights. The children's mother, who had cut down the amount of visitation in the wake of their father's death, objected. The issue before the Supreme Court was whether Washington's law unconstitutionally infringed on a parent's fundamental right to rear his/her children if it permitted any person to petition for visitation rights at any time and allowed courts to grant such rights whenever the visitation was in the child's best interest. The Court decided to strike down the law because the "custody, care and nurture of the child reside first in the parents" and should not be "hinder[ed]" by the state. However, the Supreme Court also acknowledged that grandparents and other family members are increasingly relied upon to assist in parental duties and may deserve some protection or deference when requesting visitation. In the end, the decision created a need for states to tailor their domestic relations laws if they wanted to create specific actions for grandparent rights.

In Indiana there is no common law right for grandparents to seek visitation. The Grandparent Visitation Act is the exclusive method for grandparents to seek visitation. Indiana's codified version of the Grandparent Visitation Act is I.C. 31-17-5. The two key elements of the code are its provisions on standing (whether or not a person has the ability to file the petition) and the best interest test that a court will apply in deciding whether to grant visitation. Both of these elements have been interpreted and examined by the Indiana Court of Appeals and the Indiana Supreme Court. Because the analysis is often fact specific, I encourage any party interested in this topic to consult with an experienced family law attorney on how their situation would apply under Indiana law.

If you have questions about grandparent rights in Indiana or other family law matters, please contact Harden Jackson Law.

Remember, these suggestions are not meant to be legal advice. You should consult a family law attorney to discuss the specifics of your situation.


Photo credit: www.bravotv.com

Should a judge be able to change your child's name?

August 13, 2013

gavel.jpgHow far can the judicial system go when it comes to decisions about your children? Can a judge rename your child without your input? A judge in Tennessee did just that. The judge has ordered parents who named their son Messiah to change it. The case first came to the court because the mother and father, who were not married, could not agree on whose last name the child should take.

The judge ordered that the child take the last name of both parents, but made another surprising decision by deciding Thursday that the baby, Messiah DeShawn Martin, should be renamed "Martin DeShawn McCullough."

"The word Messiah is a title and it's a title that has only been earned by one person and that one person is Jesus Christ," Ballew said, according to WBIR-TV.

She said she made the decision in the best interests of the child, but observers predicted it's not likely her order will hold. Many family law experts predict that this decision will not be upheld.

The boy's mother, Jaleesa Martin, of Newport, Tenn., said she plans to appeal the order and will not stop calling him Messiah.

"I never intended on that -- naming my son Messiah because it means God," she told WBIR-TV. "And I didn't think a judge could make me change my baby's name because of her religious beliefs."

Despite the judge's opinion about the name Messiah for a child, it was the fourth fastest rising name for boys over a one-year period, according to the Social Security Administration, jumping 246 spots from number 633 in 2011 to number 387 in 2012.

Critics, including the ACLU, claim this was a blatant breach of the parents' rights to name their child, especially when it wasn't the issue being presented to the court.

Indiana to decide on same-sex divorce

July 3, 2013

1392509_rainbow_flag.jpgLast week, the Supreme Court of the United States ruled that the federal government must recognize same-sex marriages solemnized in states where such marriages are legal for the purpose of applying federal benefits. In other words, same sex couples that are legally married are entitled to the same federal benefits as married heterosexual couples. The Supremes did not, however, mandate that all states legalize same sex marriage but rather left that determination to each individual state. There are currently 13 states that allow same-sex marriage.
What impact will the Court's ruling have on states that have not legalized same-sex marriage? We may soon find out the answer to that question. On June 26th, the same date as the Supreme Court's decision, Indiana received what is one of the first same-sex petition for dissolution of marriage in our state (there was a petition filed in 2009, which was dismissed by the judge). The petition states that "The parties have been and are residents of the state of Indiana for more than 6 month as per statute. Although Indiana does not recognize same sex marriage, Indiana must give full faith and credit to this marriage which was duly solemnized in Massachusetts and hereby grant the parties' dissolution of marriage."
Indiana family law attorneys around the state have many questions on the impact of this decision. If the federal government gives full faith and credit to legal same-sex marriages, will individual states be required to do the same? In states like Indiana where same sex marriage is not legal, will they be required to recognize those same-sex marriages performed legally elsewhere? Is there a "right" to divorce that must be applied equally to heterosexual and same-sex couples?

How much does it cost to divorce in Indiana?

April 16, 2013


One of the first questions we get from prospective clients inquiring about divorce is "How much money will my divorce cost?" This question is tough to answer. There are so many extenuating circumstances that can affect your legal costs in divorce. There ARE ways 72.jpgto minimize legal fees and maintain control over the terms of your divorce. At Harden Jackson Law, we encourage spouses to avoid litigation and consider alternatives such as mediation or collaborative law. Both are less expensive than traditional divorce litigation, but each alternative method still provides a structured, legal process to work out detailed terms. However, there are many situations that aren't suitable for collaborative law or mediation. Here are a few tips to minimize your legal costs in your divorce:

  • Speak directly with the opposing party. Don't reach out to your attorney with disputes that could be sorted out between the parties, particularly if it is a parenting time issue that is already addressed in the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (IPTG).
  • Disputes over minor property issues (like movies, sporting equipment, kitchen stuff) are not cost effective. If it costs more for your attorney to fight over a particular item than it would be to replace it, then it may not be worth fighting over unless there is a sentimental attachment.
  • Organize discovery responses on your own. Clients who do their own due diligence and send back organized documents and responses are rewarded by not having their attorney incur bills to get everything together.
  • Be timely with information requests. Having your attorney keep reminding you to send documents only incurs more fees. In fact, the cheapest option is an informal discovery where the parties are organized enough to get their financial documents exchanged without the need to request it.
  • "Sleep on it". Don't make emotional decisions. If opposing counsel sends an offer or a response, wait to respond when emotions have died down. Spending a lot of time crafting a response while emotions are high cost money and may even lead to regret.
At HARDEN JACKSON, we want all of our clients to be satisfied with the fees charged relative to the services provided. It is appropriate and important to discuss fees with your prospective attorney during your consultation and throughout the process of your case. You are entitled to an estimation of potential total costs related to your particular situation. For more information on divorce in Indiana or your family law situation, contact Harden Jackson Law.

Presumption of paternity: What the tabloids are getting right.

March 7, 2013

By: Amanda Glowacki
1357138206_kim-kardashian-kanye-west-lg.jpg
I, like many others, have a guilty habit of looking at the tabloids in line at the supermarket. A couple weeks ago I was browsing some of the celebrity tabloids and came across a headline on Kim Kardashian's pregnancy and new boyfriend Kanye West. Per the headline, Kanye was furious that Kim's divorce to Kris Humphries was still pending and Kanye was willing to do whatever it took to finalize the divorce before Kim delivered. Turns out that Kanye's frustrations are valid as California, like Indiana and many other states, presumes that a married woman's husband is the father of a newly-born child. In Indiana this presumption is codified in IC 31-14-7 which provides in part that:
A man is presumed to be a child's biological father if: (1) the:
(A) man and the child's biological mother are or have been married to each other; and
(B) child is born during the marriage or not later than three hundred (300) days after the marriage is terminated by death, annulment, or dissolution;

For most married couples, this presumption is helpful. It avoids the awkward necessity of having a husband fill out a paternity affidavit or submit to DNA testing when it is clear that he is the father of his wife's child. For Kim and especially Kanye, the presumption is frustrating because a California court will presume that Kris is the father until the child's correct paternity is established. Even Kris should be concerned because the presumption theoretically places an obligation on him for the support of the child.

In reality, this situation occurs more than people realize. Divorce can be a long process, particularly for couples who have a lot of conflict or many assets to divide. In some cases where a couple cannot settle out of court, the road to a contested final hearing can take several months, if not years. It is not uncommon for one of the parties to begin a new relationship in that time, particularly where there are no children and the marriage was short term. Clients give me the stink eye all the time when I have to include in every petition and decree for dissolution whether the wife is pregnant. Unfortunately, it is something that Courts need to know in case a situation like Kim's should ever arise.

Now I am sure that Kim, Kris and Kanye's legal teams are more than capable of rebutting the presumption when/if Kim delivers before a divorce is final, but this situation is a great example of the way the legislature creates laws that do not fit every person's situation. Sometimes we all take for granted that just because a married woman gives birth to a child that she and her husband are the biological parents. There are cases like Kim's or more frequently case of a married gestational surrogate who is carrying another couple's child where the presumption doesn't match reality. In those situations, parties need to have an attorney with the ability to step in and protect the client's interest.

For more information about paternity in Indiana, contact Harden Jackson Law.

Photo courtesy usmagazine.com

The New Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines Are Here

February 28, 2013

The much anticipated revisions to the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines (IPTG) take effect on March 1, 2013. Below are some answers to FAQ:

How will the new guidelines affect my current parenting time schedule?
If you currently have a court order to follow the IPTG, then the new guidelines will have no affect on your parenting time. The new IPTG will only apply to new orders of parenting time or those taking effect on or after March 1, 2013. However, if your current order with respect to parenting time or custody is modified by the Court in the future; the new IPTG will likely be implemented at that time.

Can I move to modify my current order to implement the new IPTG?
No, you cannot file a motion with the court for the sole purpose of implementing the new IPTG. However, parents are not prevented from agreeing to follow the revised IPTG. If both parents agree that they wish to follow the new IPTG, they must put their agreement in writing and file with the court for approval. Otherwise, the agreement will not be enforceable.

How do the new IPTG differ from the current IPTG?
There have been no changes to the weekly schedule of parenting time. The main changes are with respect to the holiday and special day schedules. Under the current IPTG there are no provisions for dividing Martin Luther King, Jr. Day weekend, President's Day weekend or fall break. The new IPTG have added these as holidays to be alternated between the parents. Under the new IPTG, Christmas break and New Year's holiday have been consolidated into one holiday and divided equally. Under the current IPTG they are two separate holidays.

The revised IPTG give additional guidance regarding division of breaks for children attending schools with year round or balanced calendars. The current IPTG divide all breaks equally between the parties but neglect to assign which parent receives which half. The revised IPTG alternate the first half and second half of the breaks from year to year.

The revised IPTG no longer include the provision preventing either party from exercising three weekends in a row due to holiday parenting time. The revised IPTG allow the parties to maintain alternating weekends throughout the year. Holidays still take precedence over regular weekend parenting time.

Additionally, there have been some clarifications with respect to the opportunity for additional parenting time (Right of First Refusal). This provision states that when a parent requires childcare by someone other than a family member, that they must offer this time to the other parent first. The revised IPTG provide further guidance regarding the definition of "family member" with the term "responsible household" family member being added to the guidelines. The commentary defines household family member as "an adult person residing in the household, who is related to the child by blood, marriage or adoption."

The above highlights some but not all of the revisions to the IPTG. You may view all the changes to the current guidelines here.

If you have questions about divorce, custody or other family law matter, contact Harden Jackson Law.