Recently in Family Law Category

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

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 .

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

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

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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:

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
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

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.

Montgomery Gentry plays out divorce in country song

February 22, 2013

Country band Montgomery Gentry seems to have publicly displayed divorce details of Eddie Montgomery's recent divorce in their newest single, "I'll Keep the Kids". While the band member claims it's not a line for line account of his personal life, the song feels awfully personal.

"We're just painting a picture," said Montgomery. "So far, a lot of people have told me that the song has helped them through their own divorce. I know it's helped me a lot to just get that out."
The song may be helping others during difficult divorce proceedings, but the goal of the song was to portray the effects of divorce on children.
Some of the lyrics are below:

You don't have to holler,
And we don't have to fight.
We can settle all this, right here
Right now, tonight

No need to call no lawyer
You don't have to pack no bags
It's obvious, all you want is
Half more than your half

I see here on this paper
You wrote what you want down
Want me to sign over
What was ours is all yours now

Take the house that my sweat built ya'
Here's the keys to both the cars
I'll do you up the title to my ole Harley in the barn

Take all our family pictures
And my records off the wall
And any other sign of livin' proof
That I lived here at all

Can't help but not see a couple little things
Not there on your list
So if you don't care
I'll keep the kids

You can listen to the song here.

What do you think? Is this an inspirational anthem to help people through divorce or an unnecessary airing of dirty laundry?

For information about family law, divorce or child custody in Indiana, contact Harden Jackson Law.

Child Support Case Makes it to Indiana COA - Twice

January 31, 2013

A child support case has made it to the Indiana Court of Appeals for the second time. The judges have ordered the trial court to use a different income factor when calculating the father's support.

Matthew Ashworth and Kathryn (Ashworth) Ehrgott were married in 1999 and have two minor children. They divorced in 2006, and Ergott has sole legal and physical custody of the children

The support case first made it to court in 2010 when the judges ordered recalculation of his weekly gross income and to calculate credits against his child support payment. In late 2010, mother filed a child support modification petition which led to this latest appeal.

Matthew Ashworth appealed the order on modification of child support entered in favor of his ex-wife Kathryn Ehrgott. Ashworth contended that the trial court abused its discretion in calculating his 2012 and subsequent child support obligation and income withholding order; in determining his additional child support obligation based on his 2010-2012 bonuses and future irregular income; and that the court erred by declining to credit him for his overpaid child support obligations.

The judges ordered the trial court to apply a new income allocation factor, which resulted in an over-payment of $8.54 per week. The trial could will now calculate the credit owed to Ashworth.

Read full story here

Meet attorney and registered mediator, Amanda Glowacki

January 25, 2013

Have you met attorney Amanda Glowacki? Amanda is an attorney in HARDEN JACKSON'S Family Law Practice Group. Amanda received her Juris Doctor from Indiana University Maurer School of Law in 2011 and graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in History from Butler University in 2008. 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. Her commitment to the private resolution of family issues, the preservation of positive working relationships within families and her calm demeanor and sensitivity in the face of emotional challenges make her the ideal choice as a mediator for family matters.

18.jpgHer colleagues note that she is bright and a hard worker, compassionate yet firm.
She is committed to working hard for her client and she puts in the extra effort on cases, so that her client is well represented.

Indiana COA affirms man's conviction of intimidating the judge in his divorce hearings

January 18, 2013

According to the Indiana Lawyer, A Dearborn County man who posted numerous articles online about a Superior judge who presided over his divorce alleging the judge was corrupt and a child abuser had his conviction of intimidation related to the conduct upheld by the Court of Appeals Thursday. But the judges found intimidation convictions relating to a psychologist who performed the custody evaluation and the judge's wife could not stand.

Daniel and Melissa Brewington were going through divorce proceedings before Dearborn Superior Judge Carl Taul. Dearborn Superior Judge James Humphrey later took over the case. Dr. Edward Connor was assigned to perform the custody evaluation of the children. He determined that Melissa Brewington should be the sole custodian and primary residential parent with Daniel Brewington receiving visitation because the couple couldn't communicate effectively.

Daniel Brewington objected to the report. Instead of allowing Connor to meet with him again, he began sending a torrent of abusive letters to Connor to release his entire file to him, withdraw from the case, and withdraw the evaluation. After Humphrey took over the case and entered a final order granting sole legal and physical custody to Melissa Brewington, Daniel Brewington began posting on websites claims that Humphrey was a child abuser and corrupt. He also posted online the name of Humphrey's wife, Heidi, and their home address and told people to send letters about his case to that address. He did not say that Heidi Humphrey, who previously was an advisor on the Supreme Court's Judicial Ethics and Professional Committee, is James Humphrey's wife.

Daniel Brewington was indicted on six charges and found guilty of five at trial: Class A misdemeanors intimidation relating to Connor and Heidi Humphrey ; Class D felony intimidation relating to James Humphrey; Class D felony attempted obstruction of justice relating to Connor; and one count of Class D felony perjury for falsely stating during grand jury proceedings that he didn't know Heidi Humphrey was the judge's wife. He received a five-year aggregate sentence.

Daniel Brewington appealed on several grounds, including double jeopardy and whether the evidence can sustain his convictions. The Court of Appeals concluded that double jeopardy required the intimidation conviction relating to Connor to be reversed and vacated because the jury could have relied on the same evidence to convict Daniel Brewington of intimidation and attempted obstruction of justice convictions. The judges reversed his conviction relating to the judge's wife, finding his posting of her address on the Internet and inviting the public to send comments about his divorce case didn't constitute a threat as defined by statute.

They upheld the conviction relating to James Humphrey, rejecting Daniel Brewington's argument civil defamation law principles must be incorporated into Indiana Code 35-42-2-1(c)(6). The judges found the state was not required to provide evidence that his public statements about James Humphrey were knowingly false.

The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court in all other respects.

The full story is here:

What you need to know about moving after a divorce

December 7, 2012

With more than 15 years experience as a divorce attorney in Indiana, Lanae Harden, who chairs the Family Law Practice Group at HARDEN JACKSON, LLC, offers information about moving after a divorce.

Job losses during this economic recession have forced many people to relocate in order to downsize their residences or to pursue new job opportunities. A move may also occur following a divorce, especially if one of the former spouses had temporary living arrangements while the sale of the marital home was pending. People may also relocate when a new relationships leads to cohabitation or remarriage.

Divorce and relocation are two of the most stressful changes in an adult's life. Numerous details and tasks must be managed and completed. When children are involved, the focus is usually whether the change will affect their friends or which school they attend. But how many parents are aware that their move may violate state statute? Under Indiana Code 31-17-2.2, a relocating individual must file notice of their intent to move with the clerk of the court that issued a custody or parenting time order. This requirement applies regardless of whether the move is across the street, across town or to a different state and has caught many parents by surprise, especially those who divorced prior to the adoption of the new law.

Previously, the statute only required filing of a relocation notice when a move was greater than 100 miles. Now, notice must be filed not later than 90 days before the proposed relocation, and the non-relocating parent has 60 days to respond to the filing if the parent seeks to prevent the relocation. The court takes numerous factors into consideration regarding the relocation, including distance involved, and whether the relocating parent is making the move in good faith and has a legitimate reason for the move. The priority of the court is to confirm that the move is in the best interests of the children. If distance is a factor, other matters must be addressed, including how the move will affect parenting time and impact the non-relocating parent's relationship with the children. This can be a volatile subject for many parents, and the financial and emotional stresses can exacerbate the situation. However, communication and cooperation can minimize the conflict and the parents may be able to negotiate an agreement. Regardless, consulting with an attorney can help either the relocating or non-relocating parent understand how the statute applies to their particular situation and develop a plan of action to address their concerns.