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Bill Before Senate Will Expedite Divorces in Domestic Violence Cases

On January 7, 2014, House Representative Chuck Moseley, a Democrat from District 10, introduced Indiana House Bill 1014, which would permit courts to expedite final hearings in divorce cases that involve domestic violence. The Bill passed unanimously out of the House, and was sent to the Senate for further action on February 3, 2014. The Bill was co-authored by Rep. Rebecca Kubacki and Rep. Moseley.

House Bill No. 1014

Under current Indiana law, a court is not allowed to conduct a final divorce hearing or even enter a summary dissolution decree until 60 days after a petition or counter-petition has been filed. A judge cannot enter a summary judgment dissolution decree until 60 days after the divorce petition has been filed. Currently there are no exceptions to this.

This is often a lengthy process during a time in which retaliation by the abuser is highly likely. The purpose of Indiana House Bill 1014 is to protect the abused and their children from abusive spouses. The bill will expedite Indiana divorce cases in which one spouse has already been found guilty of either domestic violence or child abuse. When an abused spouse files for divorce from their abuser, the court will then be allowed to dissolve the marriage at any time following the initial divorce petition. A counter-petition will not be required, and neither will a 60-day waiting period.

The bill also requires that either a final hearing or a summary dissolution be entered as soon as practicable. These same rights and powers are also afforded to family law arbitrators under the new bill.

Designed to Protect Families

According to Rep. Moseley, “this bill protects the rights of women in divorce cases by offering them additional protection from their abusive husbands, as well as extending this protection to any children in these homes.”

“Too often I’ve seen women find the courage to leave these abusive homes, but the victimization does not stop after the termination of the relationship. This legislation will help protect the women and children who escape these toxic relationships,” Rep. Moseley said.

Rep. Moseley hopes that the bill will help curb domestic violence. Other cosponsors of the Bill include Rebecca Kubacki (R-District 22), Vanessa Summers, (D-District 99), Cindy Kirchhofer (R-District 89), Milo Smith (R-District 59), Rodric Bray (R-District 37), and Jean D. Breaux (D-District 34). The Bill is predicted to have no fiscal impact.

According to Rep. Kubacki, “when a woman finally makes the decision to break the cycle, she should not be tied up in court.”

Rep. Kubacki is making laws designed to protect children and families her priority. “I’m going to be the mother of Indiana,” she said.

Another such family law bill on her plate is Indiana House Bill 1016, which gives children under 18 the right to file for a protective order. Current law dictates that an adult must sign the petition in order for it to be filed. However, in many instances, children seek protective orders from their own parents or guardians. Rep. Kubacki was inspired by a case in Ohio in which a young girl filed for a protective order against her parents, who were frequently high on illegal drugs when around her. The girl was refused under a similar law, then was later seriously injured by her parents. Rep. Kubacki hopes to prevent this from happening in Indiana, but wrote Bill 1016 to give the judge discretion in whether to grant these types of petitions in order to avoid kids filing for minor problems as a means of retaliating against parents.

If you or a loved one has experienced either domestic or child abuse, or is seeking a divorce, please contact Christopher L. Arrington, a skilled Indiana divorce and child custody lawyer.

By Christopher Arrington

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