Hammel v. Hammel, 091521 INCA, 21A-DC-594

Docket Nº21A-DC-594
Party NameWhitney Hammel, Appellant, v. Logan Hammel, Appellee.
AttorneyATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Riley L. Parr Lebanon, Indiana Randall Parr Indianapolis, Indiana ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE Jack A. Tandy Tandy Law, LLC Shelbyville, Indiana
Judge PanelMathias, J., and Tavitas, J., concur.
Case DateSeptember 15, 2021
CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana

Whitney Hammel, Appellant,


Logan Hammel, Appellee.

No. 21A-DC-594

Court of Appeals of Indiana

September 15, 2021

Pursuant to Ind. Appellate Rule 65(D), this Memorandum Decision shall not be regarded as precedent or cited before any court except for the purpose of establishing the defense of res judicata, collateral estoppel, or the law of the case.

Appeal from the Shelby Circuit Court The Honorable Trent E. Meltzer, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 73C01-2003-DC-53

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANT Riley L. Parr Lebanon, Indiana Randall Parr Indianapolis, Indiana

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE Jack A. Tandy Tandy Law, LLC Shelbyville, Indiana



[¶1] Whitney Hammel (Mother) appeals the trial court's custody modification awarding Logan Hammel (Father) primary physical custody of his and Mother's two children, 10-year-old H.H. and 7-year-old W.H. (collectively, Children). Finding sufficient evidence that the custody modification was in Children's best interests and based on a substantial change in Children's homelife adjustment and parent-child relationships, we affirm.


[¶2] Shortly after parents divorced in Ohio, Mother moved Children to Indiana where their maternal grandmother also resides. According to Father, he discovered the move when Children's new school called concerning their repeat absences. Father, who regularly traveled for work at the time of the divorce, has since settled in Iowa and now works for a company which does not require overnight travel.

[¶3] Given his newfound stability, Father petitioned for modification of child custody, claiming Mother's lifestyle was chaotic and that she left Children with their maternal grandmother for long periods of time. At Father's request, a court appointed special advocate (CASA) was assigned to investigate Children's bests interests. The CASA recommended that Father have primary physical custody of Children, and following an evidentiary hearing, the trial court agreed. Though Mother and Father maintained joint legal custody of Children, the court entered a custody modification order awarding Father primary physical custody of Children, with Mother having parenting time. Mother now appeals.

Standard of Review

[¶4] "We review custody modifications for an abuse of discretion with a preference for granting latitude and deference to our trial judges in family law matters." Hecht v. Hecht, 142 N.E.3d 1022, 1028 (Ind.Ct.App. 2020) (internal quotation omitted). "We will not reweigh the evidence or judge the credibility of the witnesses." Id. at 1029. "Rather, we will reverse the trial court's custody determination only if the decision is clearly against the logic and effect of the facts and circumstances or the reasonable inferences drawn therefrom." Id. (internal quotation omitted).

Discussion and Decision

[¶5] Mother argues that the trial court abused its discretion in awarding Father primary physical custody of Children. Indiana Code § 31-17-2-21(a) prohibits a trial court from modifying a child custody order unless: "(1) the modification is in the best interests of the child; and (2) there is a substantial change in one . . . or more of the factors that the court may consider under section 8 and, if applicable, section 8.5 of this chapter."[1]

[¶6] Indiana Code § 31-17-2-8 identifies nine factors relevant in determining a child's best interest. They include "[t]he interaction and interrelationship of the child with . . . the child's parent or...

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