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COA rules Marion County had exclusive jurisdiction over custody of boy

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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed an order out of Montgomery County regarding custody and parenting time of a boy because that court could not properly exercise jurisdiction. Marion County had exclusive jurisdiction over the custody of the boy.

M.B. and N.S. were appointed guardians of B.C. by Marion Superior Court, Probate Division, July 31, 2012. M.B. is the boy’s maternal grandfather. At this time, paternity had not been established. J.C., the boy’s biological father, filed a petition to establish paternity, custody, support and parenting time in Montgomery Circuit Court Dec. 19, 2012. In May 2013, the guardians filed a petition for adoption in Marion Superior Court.

At issue in In the Matter of the Paternity of B.C., M.B. and N.S. v. J.C., 54A01-1309-JP-398, is whether Montgomery Circuit Court or Marion Superior Court had jurisdiction to determine the custody of B.C.

The Court of Appeals found the Marion Superior Court had jurisdiction to enter its July 31, 2012, order appointing M.B. and N.S. as guardians over B.C. because, at that time, J.C. had not yet filed his verified petition to establish paternity. And based on statute, Montgomery Circuit Court was authorized to enter its order Dec. 20, 2012, establishing paternity because the issue of whether J.C. was B.C.’s father was not an issue pending before Marion Superior Court.

But the Montgomery Circuit Court was precluded from entering its July 5, 2013, order finding that the guardians should retain physical custody of B.C. at that time, that J.C. and the biological mother share joint legal custody, and that both parents should have parenting time. The guardianship, paternity, and adoption proceedings all relate to custody – a subject that was properly before the Marion Superior Court due to the guardianship action, the appeals court held.

The judges found that I.C. 31-19-2-14, which governs the exclusive jurisdiction when a petition for adoption and a petition to establish paternity are pending at the same time, controls rather than I.C. 31-30-1-1(3).

“While the Guardians did not cite Ind. Code § 31-19-2-14 to the Montgomery Circuit Court, they did request a transfer of the case to the Marion Superior Court, albeit to the guardianship proceedings, and the evidence presented at the hearing in the Montgomery Circuit Court included mention of the adoption petition filed by the Guardians,” Judge Elaine Brown wrote.

“Because the petition for adoption and the paternity action were pending at the same time, the court in which the petition for adoption had been filed had exclusive jurisdiction over the custody of B.C. Accordingly, the Montgomery Circuit Court could not properly exercise jurisdiction to enter its July 5, 2013 order as the Marion Superior Court had exclusive jurisdiction over the custody of B.C., and the Marion Superior Court erred when it dismissed the guardianship and adoption proceedings. We reverse the Montgomery Circuit Court’s July 5, 2013 order and remand with instructions for the Marion Superior Court to comply with all provisions of Ind. Code §§ 31-19 and 29-3.”
 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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