2023/2024 Indiana Legislative Family Law Updates | New Indiana Family Laws

As experienced family law attorneys with decades of legal experience, we are committed to keeping our clients and the community informed about the latest legislative changes that can impact families in Indiana.

As we step into the new year, we are closely examining the most significant family law legislative changes enacted in 2023, with some becoming effective as of January 1, 2024. These changes reflect evolving societal values and legal standards, directly affecting areas such as paternity actions, child custody, and adoption processes. In this blog, we’ll succinctly outline these changes and their implications.

Whether you’re dealing with paternity actions, child custody disputes, adoption processes, or any other family law matter, our decades of experience and deep knowledge of Indiana family law ensure our clients are in capable hands. To discuss your case and understand how these legislative changes may affect you, contact us today at 812-944-8005 to schedule a consultation.

Changes in Paternity Actions (H.E.A. 1172, P.L. 66)

Effective: July 1, 2023

A crucial update in paternity law is reflected in H.E.A. 1172, P.L. 66. This law amends IC 31-17-2-3, allowing a child to commence a child custody proceeding through a ‘next friend’. This amendment empowers children in unique circumstances, giving them a voice in legal proceedings directly affecting their lives.

Moreover, this legislation grants concurrent jurisdiction to courts overseeing a child in a Child in Need of Services (CHINS) or juvenile delinquency proceeding with courts handling paternity cases. This change streamlines the process, ensuring that paternity, custody, and support issues are addressed more efficiently in the context of a child’s overall welfare.

As Indiana paternity attorneys, we recognize the importance of this change in ensuring a child’s right to a stable and supportive family environment is upheld. If you need assistance with a paternity matter, we invite you to call our office at 812-944-8005 to schedule a consultation.

Family & Juvenile Law Amendments (H.E.A. 1570, P.L. 244)

Effective: July 1, 2023

H.E.A. 1570, P.L. 244 introduced significant reforms in Indiana’s family and juvenile law, particularly focusing on adoption procedures and the rights of foster parents and children. Key aspects of this legislation include:

  • Adoption Contestation Period. The period to contest certain adoptions is reduced from 30 days to 15 days, streamlining the adoption process.
  • Confidentiality and Foster Parents. Foster parents are permitted to disclose information to state government officials responsible for child protection without being restricted by confidentiality agreements with the Department of Child Services (DCS).
  • Protection of Foster Parents’ Rights. The DCS is prohibited from penalizing foster parents or removing foster children from their homes solely based on the foster parent’s communication with an elected official.
  • Information and Support for Foster Parents. The DCS must provide foster parents with detailed information packets outlining their rights and the grievance process, as well as access to the DCS’s policy manual.
  • Adoption Petitions by Foster Parents. Foster children cannot be removed from the homes of foster parents, unlicensed caregivers, or de facto custodians merely because they have filed a petition to adopt the child.
  • Sibling Visitation Requests. Adoptive parents can request sibling visitation for their adopted child, with the DCS mandated to respond within seven business days.
  • Child Protection in CHINS Cases. There is a rebuttable presumption against in-person contact between a child and a parent convicted of offenses against the child, in cases where the child is a subject of a Child in Need of Services (CHINS) petition.
  • Termination of Parent-Child Relationship. If a court hearing for a petition to terminate the parent-child relationship is not held by the statutory deadline, the petition must be dismissed without prejudice, unless a valid reason for the delay is presented.

This law reflects a comprehensive approach to safeguarding the interests of children in foster care and streamlining the adoption process, ensuring that the child’s welfare remains the paramount concern.

For a detailed understanding of the bill, it can be accessed at H.E.A. 1570, P.L. 244.

Consideration of Sibling Separation in Child Placement (H.E.A. 1169, P.L. 65)

Effective: July 1, 2023

This legislation emphasizes the importance of considering a child’s best interest when deciding on their placement. If a child resides or is placed in a location with a sibling, DCS and courts must now assess whether separating the child from their sibling is in their best interest. This focus on sibling relationships in child placements underscores the significance of familial bonds in the overall well-being of children.

For families involved in custody disputes or child placement issues, it is advisable to consult with an experienced child custody lawyer who can provide guidance based on these legislative updates. If you have questions about a child custody or sibling placement matter, we invite you to call our office to schedule a consultation. We can listen to the facts of your case, explain your legal options, and tenaciously advocate for a favorable outcome.

Termination of Parental Rights and Safe Haven Infants (S.E.A. 345, P.L. 45)

Effective: July 1, 2023

S.E.A. 345, P.L. 45 represents a significant development in Indiana’s juvenile law, particularly focusing on the rights and procedures related to “safe haven infants.” The law introduces several key provisions:

  • Definition of ‘Safe Haven Infant’. The law clearly defines what constitutes a safe haven infant, providing a legal basis for subsequent provisions.
  • Immunization Status and Child Placement. It prohibits licensed child-placing agencies from discriminating against individuals based on their immunization status.
  • Custody of Safe Haven Infants. Emergency medical services providers are authorized to contact either the Department of Child Services (DCS) or a licensed child-placing agency to take custody of a safe haven infant.
  • Missing Child Checks. The DCS and licensed child-placing agencies must check if a safe haven infant has been reported missing before proceeding with custody or adoption processes.
  • Medicaid Eligibility. Safe haven infants are presumed to be eligible for Medicaid, ensuring immediate access to healthcare.
  • Termination of Parent-Child Relationship. The law sets out specific procedures for the termination of the parent-child relationship in cases involving safe haven infants, including a mandate for the DCS or a licensed child-placing agency to file a termination petition within 15 days of taking custody.
  • Placement with Preapproved Adoptive Parents. Licensed child placing agencies are required to place safe haven infants with preapproved adoptive parents, streamlining the adoption process.
  • Implied Consent for Termination. If neither parent petitions for custody within 28 days of the child being taken into custody, their consent for the termination of the parent-child relationship is irrevocably implied.
  • Publication of Putative Parent Notice. The law requires the publication of a notice for putative parents in a local newspaper for three consecutive weeks, along with the submission of an affidavit of publication to the court.
  • Prohibition on Court Inquiry. Courts are prohibited from inquiring into the reasons for the parents’ absence in safe haven cases.
  • Limitation on Costs for Prospective Adoptive Families. The law specifies that only certain costs can be charged to prospective adoptive families by licensed child placement agencies.

This legislation provides a comprehensive framework for handling the sensitive issue of safe haven infants, balancing the needs of the children with the rights of the parents and prospective adoptive families.

For a detailed understanding of the bill, it can be accessed at S.E.A. 345, P.L. 45.

Court-Ordered Expenses in Pregnancy and Childbirth (H.E.A. 1009, P.L. 119)

Effective: January 1, 2024

An essential update, especially for single mothers, is the specification of what a court can order a father to pay regarding pregnancy, childbirth, and postpartum expenses. This update provides clarity and support for mothers seeking financial assistance during these critical periods.

In cases involving disputes over such expenses, having a family law attorney experienced in handling such sensitive matters can be invaluable. If you have questions regarding child-related expenses, we invite you to call our office to schedule a consultation.

Foster Family Provisions (S.E.A. 151, P.L. 97)

Effective: July 1, 2023

Significant changes have been made to support foster families. The new law requires DCS to provide lists of insurers for foster youth without needing a guardian co-signer, and foster families are now eligible for tax credits for insuring foster youth.

The law also ensures that foster parents or agencies cannot be held liable for damages caused by a foster youth driving a vehicle they own and insure. This provision supports foster parents in providing normalcy for foster youth while safeguarding them from undue liability.

For foster families facing legal challenges or seeking to understand their rights and responsibilities under these new laws, we invite you to call our office for personalized and pragmatic guidance.

Schedule A Consultation With An Experienced Indiana Family Law Attorney

As we navigate these changes in Indiana’s family law landscape, seeking professional legal counsel is more important than ever. At Mattox & Wilson, we provide our clients with up-to-date, knowledgeable, and compassionate legal assistance. Whether you are facing a paternity dispute, considering adoption, dealing with custody issues, or any other family law matter, our team is here to guide you through these new legal terrains.

Understanding and adapting to these legislative updates is essential for anyone involved in family law matters in Indiana. We encourage you to reach out to us for guidance and support as you navigate these changes.

Pay Bill Pay Retainer