Family Law Case Review: Dixon v. Dixon

Case: Kyle W. Dixon v. Ara J. Dixon
by Mike Kohlhaas, Bingham Greenebaum Doll

HELD:
Trial court acted within its discretion by granting Mother’s requested relocation with the children to Illinois, to live with her new husband, where evidence presented was that Father’s amount of parenting time could be substantially preserved.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
Mother and Father divorced in 2007. Mother received primary custody of the parties’ two children, subject to Father’s parenting time. In 2011, Mother filed a notice of intent to relocate to Illinois, based upon Mother’s plans to marry a man who lived there. Father objected to Mother’s relocation with the children, then in first and fourth grade.

After a hearing, the trial court granted Mother’s proposed relocation. The trial court found that Mother’s proposed relocation was advanced in good faith, for a legitimate reason, and was not done in haste; further, since Mother had been the children’s primary caretaker since separation, it was in the children’s best interests to remain with Mother. The trial court also observed that the travel time between Father’s residence and Mother’s proposed residence was a little over 3 hours, and that Mother was offering to continue alternating weekends. Father appealed.

On appeal, Father cited to the 2006 Green case, in which the Court of Appeals reversed a trial court’s relocation order that permitted the mother to move to Iowa with the children, even though the children had deep roots in Indiana. In the instant case, the Court distinguished Green on the basis that Mother’s proposed move to Illinois would not materially change Father’s parenting time – indeed, Mother was willing to continue the alternating week schedule. Thus, unlike the Iowa relocation in Green, Mother’s relocation to Illinois would be far less disruptive to the relationship between Father and the children.  The Court of Appeals also noted that, in its relocation order, the trial court granted Father an increased amount of holidays, school breaks, and summer to help preserve his overall parenting time with the children each year.

In dicta, the Court of Appeals also appeared to endorse the trial court’s decision to lower Father’s child support based upon the increased expenses Father would incur with travel to/from Mother’s new residence.

The trial court’s relocation order was affirmed.

To view the text of this opinion in its entirety, click here: Kyle W. Dixon v. Ara J. Dixon

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The Indiana Family Law Update is a free service provided by Bingham Greenebaum Doll, LLP. While significant efforts are made to ensure an accurate summary and reproduction of each opinion, readers are advised to verify all content and analysis with a traditional case law reporter before relying on the content and analysis offered here.

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