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Marchal v. Craig

Court of Appeals of Indiana
681 N.E.2d 1160 (1997)


Facts

Keith Marchal (plaintiff) and Paula Craig (defendant) were the divorced parents of a single son. The terms of their divorce provided that Marchal and Craig would have joint legal custody, but that Marchal had the right to make all major decisions. Marchal and Craig also agreed to share physical custody equally. Marchal later petitioned the trial court to order mediation. Marchal and Craig, along with their attorneys, agreed for Dr. Ehrmann, a clinical psychologist, to mediate the case. Marchal  and Craig also agreed that in the event they could not reach an agreement, Dr. Ehrmann could resolve the dispute, based upon the child's best interests. Following an unsuccessful mediation, Marchal’s attorney withdrew from the case. Marchal, appearing pro se, meaning without counsel, objected to Dr. Ehrmann's testimony due to the fact that Dr. Ehrmann had served as Marchal and Craig’s mediator and that the details of the mediation should be kept confidential. Despite Marchal’s objections, the trial court allowed Dr. Ehrmann to testify. The trial court considered Dr. Ehrmann's testimony, which was prejudicial to Marchal, and awarded sole legal custody of the child to Craig. Marchal appealed the decision.

Rule of Law

Issue

Holding and Reasoning (Robertson, J.)

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