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Smith v. McPheron

Court of Appeals of Indiana

February 27, 2019

Micayla N. Smith, Appellant-Petitioner,
v.
Nathan W. McPheron, Appellee-Respondent.

          Appeal from the Madison Circuit Court The Honorable Angela Warner Sims, Judge The Honorable Kevin M. Eads, Magistrate Trial Court Cause No. 48C01-1603-DR-205

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Cody Cogswell Cogswell & Associates Fishers, Indiana.

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE David P. Murphy David P. Murphy & Associates, P.C. Greenfield, Indiana.

          NAJAM, JUDGE.

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] Micayla N. Smith ("Mother") appeals the trial court's modification of physical custody over her minor child, G.M. ("Child"), from Mother to Nathan McPheron ("Father"). Mother raises five issues for our review, [1] which we restate as the following four issues:

1. Whether the trial court's modification order is clearly erroneous.
2. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it declined to hold Father in contempt for his child-support arrearage.
3. Whether trial court abused its discretion when it declined to award Mother attorney's fees based on Father's child-support arrearage.
4. Whether the trial court abused its discretion when it denied Mother's request to proceed in forma pauperis on appeal.

         [¶2] We affirm the trial court's judgment on the first three issues but reverse the trial court's denial of Mother's motion to proceed in forma pauperis.

         Facts and Procedural History[2]

         [¶3] In March of 2016, Mother filed a petition for the dissolution of her marriage to Father. Child was the only child of the marriage and was just shy of three years old at the time Mother filed the petition for dissolution. In June, the trial court entered its decree of dissolution. In the decree, the court awarded primary physical custody over Child to Mother and ordered Father to pay $85 per week in child support.

         [¶4] In May of 2016, Mother lived in a third-floor apartment with her boyfriend, Brandon George, and George's minor child in Anderson. On May 22, [3]neighbors called police to report that Child had been left unattended on the apartment's balcony. Officers arrived and, later, case managers with the Indiana Department of Child Services investigated. Mother admitted to family case manager William Griffin that she had left Child on the third-floor balcony unattended. While Child was on the balcony, Mother and George were "sleeping" ...


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