A mother struggling to change custody of her two children before the court stepped into her dissolution decree was rejected by the Indiana Court of Appeals.
In May 2018, the Hendricks Superior Court held a hearing on a motion to dissolve the marriage of Dawn Jones and Steven Gruca and then issued its resolution to dissolve the marriage and establish custody, parental leave and child benefit for their two children.
However, Jones requested that custody of the children be changed after the hearing, before the court issued a dissolution order. Jones argued, among other things, that there were several ongoing changes in circumstances that warranted a change in custody and visitation and that a change was in the best interests of the children.
She also claimed, among other things, that one of the children wanted her primarily to live with her, that one of the children had declined in schoolwork and newly developed behavioral problems, and that the children’s intellectual growth was stunted because their father allowed them to play video games while he is in his care.
The court eventually denied Jones’ motion, stating in its ruling that “Mother didn’t even wait to see what the court decided there had to be a change before we made up our minds. “
“Petitions, like that of mother in this case, are the reason why the participation in (Mundon versus Mundon, 703 NE2d 1130, 1133-34 (Ind. Ct. App. 1999)) exists. A court can decide what is in the best interests of the children based on all evidence available up to that point, and those questions will be resolved forever. The Court and the parties can rest assured that all of these issues have been resolved and only NEW issues or information will be submitted to the Court at a later date. Without this involvement, a litigator could unearth any past incident, including one already in dispute, and bring it to court at any time. The litigation would never end, ”the court continued.
After denying Jones’ allegations, the court found that she refused to work with the parenting coordinator and warned: “Any further refusal to cooperate with the pc, further action such as ignoring the pc or refusing to follow their recommendations could result in severe sanctions. “
The court concluded that it “would not tolerate any further conduct of this nature,” so the court denied Jones’ request for change of custody, which prompted her to appeal Dawn (Gruca) Jones versus Steven Alan Gruca19A-DR-2484.
The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld this and disagreed with Jones’ claims that The court’s order does not sufficiently identify a valid basis for its decision to reject your request for amendment and that the evidence does not support the court’s judgment.
“Regardless of our standard of scrutiny and her burden of calling to show errors, Mother merely claims that three of the legal factors ‘have been significantly changed’ and then advances whatever evidence she deems favorable, but this Court case at first instance found not creditworthy or controllable. That is, Mother does not show how the evidence as a whole “unerringly and unmistakably leads to a decision contrary to the decision of the court,” wrote Judge Edward Najam for the appeals court.
She next dismissed Jones’ argument that the court violated her constitutional right to litigate under Article 1, Section 12 of the Indiana Constitution by ordering her to refer future questions regarding custody, assistance, or PC visits clarify before the court brought questions to the court.
The appeals court concluded that Jones’ argument that the court was wrong did not challenge the factual basis of its findings.
“Rather, she merely asserts that any restriction on her right to table an amendment is per se against the law. Mother is wrong. And to the extent that Mother claims that the court did not properly delegate its judicial powers by asking the parties to try to settle their disputes out of court with the pc first, Mother’s argument is not supported by any conclusive arguments and we are not looking at it . “The appeals court concluded.