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T.R. v. E.R.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

September 20, 2019

T.R., Appellant-Respondent,
v.
E.R., Appellee-Petitioner

          Appeal from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Kurt Eisgruber, Judge The Honorable Christopher B. Haile, Magistrate Trial Court Cause No. 49D06-1701-DC-2086

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Kathleen M. Meek Romy N. Elswerky Justin T. Bowen Bowen & Associates, LLC Carmel, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Matthew R. Springer Rochelle E. Borinstein Borinstein Springer, LLP Indianapolis, Indiana

          BAKER, JUDGE.

         [¶1] T.R. (Father) appeals the trial court's decree of dissolution on E.R.'s (Mother) petition to dissolve their marriage. He argues that (1) the trial court erred by ordering that his parenting time occur at an agency at his expense; (2) the trial court erred by ordering him to complete a domestic violence course and a psychological evaluation; and (3) the trial court erred in its child support calculation. Finding no error but that the trial court needs to clarify portions of the order, we affirm and remand with instructions.

         Facts

         [¶2] Mother and Father were married in April 2015. Two children were born of the marriage-C.R., born in June 2015; and B.R., born in June 2016.

         [¶3] The Department of Child Services (DCS) filed a petition alleging the children to be children in need of services (CHINS) in July 2016. Although the CHINS petition is not in the record, the trial court's order explained that it was "a result of the behavior of [Father] at the hospital after the birth of [B.R.]." Appealed Order p. 2. At the dissolution hearing, Mother testified about the incident:

[Father's] actions can be very erratic and confusing. For instance, after I gave birth to [B.R.], we were asked to get the car seat to take her home and he was in such a rage over that, that's why this DCS case happened. The hospital staff had to call DCS, . . . the police came-and I somewhat saw it coming, I had told my doctor during birth plan[ning] that he needed to be taken care of in whatever capacity so that I could just concentrate on [B.R.], the newborn. And they had no way of knowing that he would act that way because people in general don't, so the sorts of things-I can't say I saw that exact situation coming but, he would-he was erratic enough and easy enough to upset that I wanted to make sure . . . .

Tr. Vol. II p. 11.

         [¶4] While the CHINS case was still open, Mother filed a petition to dissolve the marriage on January 16, 2017. On February 24, 2017, the dissolution court held a preliminary hearing on the petition and refused to enter any order on custody or parenting time until the CHINS case was closed or the dissolution court was authorized by the juvenile court to proceed. On April 24, 2017, the dissolution court ordered assignment of the dissolution case to the Marion County Family Court Project so that it could be bundled with the CHINS case.[1]

         [¶5] On July 26, 2017, the juvenile court entered an order on custody and parenting time under the dissolution cause number. In relevant part, it found and held as follows:

2. That the Court finds that Mother has complied with the DCS case plan and Father has failed to comply with the DCS case plan.
3. That it is now in the best interests of the minor children . . . that they shall now be in the physical custody of their Mother, and that the Mother shall have sole legal custody.
4. That [Father] shall exercise supervised parenting time . . . at the Seeds of Life agency at the Father's expense.
5. That, furthermore, Father is to complete a 26-week domestic violence course as the perpetrator through Families First.

         Appellee's App. Vol. II p. 8. The juvenile court closed the CHINS case and released wardship of the children.

         [¶6] On May 3, 2018, the dissolution court approved a partially mediated agreement regarding marital debts and assets and reserved all issues regarding the children for a final hearing. On December 6, 2018, the dissolution court held a final evidentiary hearing on the petition to dissolve the marriage. On December 14, 2018, the trial court issued the decree of dissolution of marriage. In pertinent part, it found and held as follows:

17. [Father] did not complete a 26-week domestic violence course.
18. [Father] testified that the closing of the CHINS cases rendered that order void in his opinion and therefore he did not have to comply with it.
19. [Mother] obtained an Ex Parte Order for Protection against [Father] on June 20, 2017.
20. [Father] did not request a hearing to contest the order and it remains in effect until June 20, 2019.
21. [Father] has not had any parenting time with the children since June 2017.
22. [Father] did not request a hearing on parenting time since that date.
23. Arrangements were made by counsel for supervised parenting time at the Mending Fences agency.
24. The supervised parenting time was cancelled by the agency staff after [Father] got into a dispute and altercation with the staff about the size of the room where the parenting time would take place.
25. The Court finds the demeanor and much of the testimony of [Father] to be bizarre and concerning.
26. [Father] is currently working eight hours per week at the USPS earning 17.78 an hour.
27. [Father] has previously held four other positions since 2017.
28. The positions lasted anywhere from six weeks to six months and ended either through discharge by the employer (two) or voluntary termination (two).
29. [Father] earned $36, 000.00 at Platinum Pest Control which he voluntarily quit after ...

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