Cathy M. Brownson
Cathy M. Brownson concentrates her practice in the area of family law, with a focus on guardian ad litem services, adoption, appeals, and mediation. Cathy also utilizes her family law background in negotiating and preparing premarital agreements.
An experienced and trained attorney guardian ad litem, Cathy represents the best interests of children in family law related areas. Cathy has served the Hamilton County Guardian Ad Litem Program since 2010, and has been selected by attorneys and court-appointed as a guardian ad litem advocate in child custody and guardianship cases. She also serves as an attorney for the Hamilton County Guardian Ad Litem CASA program, representing the Program with other individual guardians ad litem in court proceedings. Cathy investigates, prepares reports, and testifies in court while making recommendations for issues such as custody, parenting time, relocation, and necessary services for the family. She also works with other attorneys and mediators and offers her perspective to settle issues without the need for trial. Cathy has been a training presenter and mentored other attorneys serving in the guardian ad litem role.
Cathy focuses her adoption practice on representing adoptive parents seeking to adopt a child typically contested by a biological parent. She has also advocated for adoptive parents on appeal.
A litigated family law trial is not likely to result in a decision that satisfies all parties. Cathy has a range of courtroom and trial experience to utilize in representing clients when final judgments are tested on appeal, and has argued before the Indiana Supreme Court. In addition to family law appeals, Cathy also assists clients with the appeal of criminal convictions.
Cathy brings her family law settlement and trial experience to her mediation services offered at The Center. She is a Registered Domestic Relations Mediator and Registered Civil Mediator in Indiana. Cathy is a trained collaborative divorce attorney and member of the Central Indiana Association of Collaborative Professionals ("CIACP").
- In Re the Adoption of E.H. and M.H. (Ind. Ct. App. 2014); Adoptive parents (clients) adopted a sibling group of four children that had been found to be children in need of services (“CHINS”) and where the parental rights were previously terminated. Biological paternal grandmother and aunt (Appellants) sought to overturn the adoption by filing a post-adoption motion to intervene, which the trial court denied. On appeal, Appellants argued they were parties in the CHINS matter and had a right to intervene in the adoption. The Court of Appeals determined that any derivative rights of Appellants with regards to the children ceased when the biological father’s rights were terminated. The Court further opined that there was no right to intervene created by the CHINS action, which was separate and distinct from the adoption, and affected different rights. The trial court’s decision was affirmed and the clients’ adoption of the children remained intact.
- Wilson v. Wilson (Ind. Ct. App 2013); Husband appealed orders favorable to client (Wife). Court upheld orders related to Wife’s relocation, the child support calculation, the division of the marital estate, and the attorney fee award in favor of Wife.
- M.C. v. M.G. (Ind. Ct. App 2012); Father (Client) was granted sole legal and physical custody of the child by the trial court. Wife appealed and Appellate court held her appeal in abeyance until the trial court issued a final, appealable order. Wife was seeking to appeal the September 3, 2010; January 4, 2011; and October 5, 2011, orders and argued that the trial court abused its discretion by granting Husband sole legal and physical custody of their child. Husband cross-appealed several issues, alleging lack of jurisdiction over Wife's appeal and, in the alternative, affirmatively challenging the trial court's valuation and division of certain marital property. The Court of Appeals dismissed or denied all of the Wife’s claims.
- C.F. v. M.R. (Ind. Ct. App. 2012); Mother appealed the trial court's order granting Father’s (Client) motion to modify custody of the parties' five-year-old son. Specifically, Mother argued that the trial court improperly modified custody based on evidence of a change that was not substantial enough to justify the modification. Finding no error, the Court of Appeals affirmed custody to Father.
- D.W.G. v State of Indiana (Ind. Ct. App. 2016): Law enforcement obtained a search warrant of client's residence, based upon hearsay tips provided by a deactivated confidential informant and an anonymous source. Client was charged based upon the fruits of the search of his home, and after denial of his motion to suppress the search, was convicted at trial of Class C felony dealing in marijuana and Class D felony maintaining a common nuisance. On appeal, client argued that the execution of the search warrant was illegal and violated his rights pursuant to the Fourth Amendment of the United States Constitution and Article 1, Section 11 of the Indiana Constitution. Client argued that law enforcement failed to establish the credibility of the two hearsay tips used to obtain the search warrant, failed to meaningfully corroborate the information received, and failed to disclose the deactivation of the confidential informant to the judge that issued the warrant. The Court of Appeals agreed, and determined that the two uncorroborated tips failed to provide sufficient evidence of probable cause for issuing the warrant. The Court further found law enforcement did not act in good faith, based upon the reckless omission of material facts regarding the tips when seeking the warrant. The convictions were reversed in favor of client.
- True v. State (Ind. Ct. App. 2012); Defendant (Client) appealed two jury trial convictions: residential entry and invasion of privacy. The appellate court agreed that the jury relied on the same evidentiary facts to support both convictions. Thus, Indiana’s constitutional double jeopardy principles were violated by the verdict and both convictions could not stand. The Court of Appeals reversed the Client’s invasion of privacy conviction.
- Adams v. State (Ind. 2012); Defendant (Client) appealed the statutory suspension of his driver’s license in conjunction with the sufficiency of the evidence of his marijuana possession conviction. The Court of Appeals affirmed the trial court, but the Indiana Supreme Court granted transfer of the Client’s appeal and heard oral argument. While the conviction and suspension were ultimately upheld, the Court clarified the statutory interpretation of the driver’s license suspension statute. The Court found that the State must demonstrate more than just an incidental use of a motor vehicle in committing an offense in order for the operator’s license and vehicle registration to be suspended.
- Hamilton County GAL/CASA Training, Court Participation and Preparation for a Guardian Ad Litem in CHINS/TPR Matters, May 23, 2017
- Hamilton County GAL/CASA Training, Report Writing and Testimony of a Guardian Ad Litem in CHINS/TPR Matters, January 20, 2017
- Hamilton County GAL/CASA Training, Testimony of a Guardian Ad Litem in CHINS/TPR Matters, December, 2016
- Kids' Voice Guardian Ad Litem Attorney Training, Ethics for the Attorney Guardian Ad Litem, October, 2016
- Hamilton County Bar Association, The Role of the Guardian Ad Litem in Divorce and Paternity Matters, September 21, 2016
- Hamilton County Bar Association Bench/Bar Conference, Guardian Ad Litem Services, March, 2015
- Hamilton County Guardian Ad Litem Program Attorney Training, CLE Presenter, 2012-2016
Areas of Emphasis
Indiana University Robert H. McKinney School of Law - Indianapolis, Indiana (J.D., 2010)
University of Iowa (B.S.)
Bar & Admissions
U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana
U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Indiana
Awards & Recognition
- Indiana Super Lawyers® Rising Star (2016-2017)
- Norman Lefstein Award of Excellence, 2010
- Registered Domestic Relations Mediator, Indiana
- Registered Civil Mediator, Indiana
- Collaborative Divorce Training, 2015
- Indiana Trained Attorney Guardian Ad Litem, 2010
- Central Indiana Association of Collaborative Professionals
- Indiana State Bar Association
- Indianapolis Bar Association
- Hamilton County Bar Assocation
- Hamilton County Indiana Mock Trial Competition 2015 - 2017
- Hamilton Southeastern Schools - Volunteer
- River Glen Swim Team - Volunteer