COA reverses trial court docket’s modification in youngster custody case

A court made a mistake in granting sole custody of a child to his father and needs to reconsider its decision, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled.

In Ashley D. (Ramey) Day-Ping v. Charles T. Ramey, III, 21A-DR-295, married mother Ashley Day-Ping and father Charles Ramey on April 25, 2014 and their child was born on November 13 of that year.

In January 2017, the court of first instance accepted a settlement agreement between the couple and approved the dissolution of their marriage. The agreement saw Ashley have sole legal and physical custody of the child while Charles has time for the parents while paying the mother $ 119 per week in child support.

Previously, in 2016, the Department of Child Services received a report that Ashley neglected the child by allowing him to walk around her hair salon and play with a bottle of hair dye. DCS investigated and found the report to be unfounded.

Then, in July 2017, the mother reported to DCS that Charles had physically abused her and the child on multiple occasions in the past. She contacted DCS several times in August with similar concerns.

Also in August 2017, DCS received a report that Ashley molested the child due to a bladder found in the genital area that was allegedly absent during the father’s parental leave. After the report, DCS took the child out of maternal care in an emergency and placed it with the father.

DCS then filed a petition claiming the child was a child in need of care because of the mother’s alleged neglect. The juvenile court held a fact-finding hearing and eventually rejected CHINS ‘petition and ordered the child to be returned to the mother’s care.

The mother then filed a USC § 1983 lawsuit in federal court alleging that the two DCS family case managers investigating the CHINS allegations had violated their civil rights. That claim was settled out of court, with Ashley receiving a $ 988,000 settlement.

In late 2019, Ashley moved to change parental leave and Charles responded with his own request to change custody, parental leave, and child support. The court eventually ordered that the father’s parental leave be supervised by Youth Connections while the mother, father and child attend one of Dr. Linda McIntire must undergo a mental health and custody assessment. The guardian of parental leave was later changed to Patch Fences.

The following June, Charles filed a motion despising Ashley, claiming she had failed to complete admission to Mending Fences under the order. He also made a request to change parental leave and a request for an expedited hearing.

The court held hearings on Charles’ contempt motion and found in August 2020 that Ashley deliberately disregarded the court’s order. In addition, the court of first instance ordered the father to have time to parent as per the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines.

In December, McIntire filed her custody report in court. Ashley filed a motion for specific determinations by the court under Indiana Trial Rule 52, and in February 2021 the court issued its order to transfer sole legal and primary custody of the child from mother to father and Ashley $ 137 at the same time to pay child support per week and $ 9,000 for father’s legal fees. In addition, in the event of the father’s death, the father’s girlfriend was appointed as the child’s interim caretaker.

During the amendment process, the court of first instance ordered McIntire to conduct a custody assessment. The mother brought in two experts to review McIntire’s report, but the court found that “Dr. McIntire’s results are more compelling, more reasonable, and in line with the evidence. “

In the appeal proceedings, the court found problems with the treatment of the experts by the court of first instance.

“Although it is not uncommon for a court to believe one expert rather than another, the experts’ criticism of parts of Dr. McIntire in the face of fraudulent conduct on related matters by the father and girlfriend to encourage the court to re-examine the evidence in this case, “Judge Melissa May wrote in a statement Friday. “For example, Dr. (Michael) Jenuwine in his report several cases in the report of Dr. McIntire, in which he observed “evidence of potential bias” in favor of the father. In particular, he notes that Dr. McIntire displays a “primacy bias” in favor of the father based on the fact that Dr. McIntire did not interview the mother and father in a joint interview and instead appeared to accept the father’s version of events before considering the mother’s point of view.

“… The order of the trial greatly favors the testimony of the father, and the order is based on the custody assessment of Dr. McIntire, without the substantial criticism of her Dr. Jenuwine to acknowledge or consider the report submitted, ”May continued. “… The subsidiary court proceedings for the DCS case from August 2017 also at least question the truthfulness of the father and the girlfriend. Based on the weight given by the court to the testimony of the father and the report of Dr. McIntire, especially given a jury found that the father and girlfriend committed fraud when reporting the mother to DCS, we want the court to re-examine the evidence, taking into account all of the circumstances. “

In a footnote, the appeals court also ruled that the court erred in calling the father’s girlfriend a “temporary carer” because Ashley’s parental leave privilege was not overseen.

A new hearing must be held within 30 days of the comment.

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