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Grandmother can't petition for visitation

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A grandmother has lost her right to petition for visitation rights after her son’s parental rights were terminated, so the trial court was correct in dismissing her petition, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday.

Grandmother M.S. was granted visitation with her two grandchildren during the dissolution of her son’s marriage and after the divorce was finalized. But she violated a provision of the visitation order that prohibited the grandchildren from seeing their father while in the grandmother’s care. The children’s mother petitioned to terminate M.S.’s visitation rights due to her failure to abide by the order, which the trial court granted.

M.S. filed a motion to correct error and reconsider, which were denied, and she didn’t appeal the order.

Nearly two years later, M.S.’s son had his parental rights terminated and the children were adopted by the mother’s new husband. Then, M.S. filed a petition to modify grandparental visitation, alleging she had previously been granted visitation rights and there had been a substantial change in circumstances that warranted her visitation rights to begin again. That petition was denied by the trial court and the petition was dismissed.

In In Re: The Marriage of J.D.S. and A.L.S.; M.S. v. A.L.S., No. 63A01-1102-DR-64, M.S. argued she had “vested” visitation rights with the children before the termination of her son’s parental rights and the adoption by the stepfather, so she has standing to seek modification of the recent visitation order. Although she had established visitation rights when she had standing to do so originally, she lost those rights at the time her son’s parental rights were terminated, wrote Chief Judge Margret Robb. There were also no rights to survive the children’s adoption.

The chief judge also noted that the trial court didn’t only order M.S.’s visitation stopped; it terminated her right to visitation.

“In order to regain grandparent visitation rights following this order, Grandmother would have had to petition for those rights and establish standing anew. Because she did not file her petition until after Father’s parental rights were terminated, Grandmother no longer had standing as the parent of the children’s parent, and there were no existing visitation rights upon which to bootstrap continued visitation in the wake of the adoption,” wrote the chief judge.

 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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