In re Paternity of M.P.M.W.

908 N.E.2d 1205 (2009)

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In re Paternity of M.P.M.W.

Indiana Court of Appeals
908 N.E.2d 1205 (2009)

Facts

When M.P.M.W. was three years old, her father (defendant) petitioned for and was granted establishment of paternity and parenting time. About a year and a half later, the father filed two motions for contempt of court and a petition for modification of the parenting plan, alleging that M.P.M.W.’s mother (plaintiff) was not allowing the father to exercise his parenting time. The court found that the mother was in contempt of court, issued a writ for her arrest, and awarded sole custody to the father with no parenting time to the mother. The mother was arrested, released, and granted supervised parenting time. The mother then filed at least seven motions for contempt of court against the father, alleging that he had not followed the parenting order. The court responded with an order authorizing the police to require the father to make M.P.M.W. available to the mother for summer parenting time and modifying custody again so that the mother was the primary residential parent. The court later issued an order finding the father in contempt of court for failure to follow the parenting plan. The court found that the mother had taken M.P.M.W. to another state to keep her away from her father, dyed M.P.M.W.’s hair to keep her from being recognized, and filed several false child-abuse reports about the father. The court sentenced the father to a suspended sentence of 60 days. The court sentenced the mother to a suspended sentence of two years for the previous finding of contempt of court, on the condition that the mother obey any further court orders. The court explained that it was imposing the sentence because the mother had gone to extremes to keep M.P.M.W. away from her father and that the lengthy sentence should make the mother recognize the power of the court. The two-year sentence was within the range of sentencing for a class C felony. The mother appealed.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Kirsch, J.)

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