Wednesday, January 6, 2010

New Indiana Case Law: Paternity & Custody Settlements

Z.S. v. J.F. discusses how paternit cases differ from divorce cases when settling custody issues.

Given the paramount importance of the child‟s best interests, the trial court shall “conduct a hearing to determine the issues of support, custody, and parenting time,” following an initial determination of paternity. Ind. Code § 31-14-10-1. Indiana Code section 31-14-13-2 provides that the trial court “shall determine custody in accordance with the best interests of the child.”


Only where “the mother and the alleged father execute and file with the court a verified written stipulation” or “have filed a joint petition[,] resolving the issues of custody, child support, and parenting time,” may the trial court make findings and orders without holding the hearing required by Indiana Code section 31-14-10-1.
Opinion at 10 -11.

IC 31-14-10-1 reads follows:
Hearing to determine support, custody, and parenting time following initial determination of paternity; order to probation officer to prepare report
Sec. 1. Upon finding that a man is the child's biological father, the court shall, in the initial determination, conduct a hearing to determine the issues of support, custody, and parenting time. Upon the request of any party or on the court's own motion, the court may order a probation officer to prepare a report to assist the court in determining these matters.
So there must be a hearing - or a written agreement to settle custody issues in a paternity case.

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