ILNews

Court rules on grandparent visitation

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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What is likely to be a ruling of first impression in Indiana and one of a few nationally, the Indiana Court of Appeals today reversed a ruling that had ended a grandmother's visitation with her grandson following the adoption of her adult mother.

The 11-page ruling comes in a guardianship action involving the minor, J.E.M, in Maxine E. Handshoe v. Jessica L. Ridgway, No. 76A03=0612-CV-603.

Grandmother Maxine Handshoe is appealing the Steuben Circuit ruling that terminated her visitation privileges with her biological grandson, J.E.M, who was born out of wedlock in 2001 to her daughter, Ridgway. The grandmother had guardianship until April 2005, when Ridgeway - at age 22 - was adopted in Michigan by her second cousins. She filed a petition to end guardianship and visitation, arguing that Handshoe was no longer J.E.M.'s grandmother by virtue of the adoption. The trial court agreed.

However, in analyzing the issue on appeal, the three-judge appellate panel examined the state's Grandparent Visitation Act.

"The GVA is silent, however, on the question of the effect of an adult parent's adoption on the ability of a biological grandparent to seek visitation with his or her grandchild," the court wrote. "This is a question of first impression in Indiana. Our research has revealed that it also appears to be an issue that seldom has arisen anywhere in the country."

Relying on a decision from a Florida appeals court, Indiana's jurists found that the adoption only applies to Ridgway - not the minor child.

"We conclude that Ridgway's decision to legally sever ties with her biological mother, Handshoe, does not automatically and for purposes of the GVA sever all of Handshoe's ties with her biological grandson, J.M., who himself has not been adopted by any third party," the court wrote, adding that the mother's decision to terminate visitation could be a consideration in whether further visitation should be allowed.
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  1. He did not have an "unlicensed handgun" in his pocket. Firearms are not licensed in Indiana. He apparently possessed a handgun without a license to carry, but it's not the handgun that is licensed (or registered).

  2. Once again, Indiana's legislature proves how friendly it is to monopolies. This latest bill by Hershman demonstrates the lengths Indiana's representatives are willing to go to put big business's (especially utilities') interests above those of everyday working people. Maassal argues that if the technology (solar) is so good, it will be able to compete on its own. Too bad he doesn't feel the same way about the industries he represents. Instead, he wants to cut the small credit consumers get for using solar in order to "add a 'level of certainty'" to his industry. I haven't heard of or seen such a blatant money-grab by an industry since the days when our federal, state, and local governments were run by the railroad. Senator Hershman's constituents should remember this bill the next time he runs for office, and they should penalize him accordingly.

  3. From his recent appearance on WRTV to this story here, Frank is everywhere. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy, although he should stop using Eric Schnauffer for his 7th Circuit briefs. They're not THAT hard.

  4. They learn our language prior to coming here. My grandparents who came over on the boat, had to learn English and become familiarize with Americas customs and culture. They are in our land now, speak ENGLISH!!

  5. @ Rebecca D Fell, I am very sorry for your loss. I think it gives the family solace and a bit of closure to go to a road side memorial. Those that oppose them probably did not experience the loss of a child or a loved one.

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