The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the grant of a stepfather’s motion for change of venue from the judge, holding the man is not a party to the underlying paternity action and therefore isn’t entitled to a change of venue from the judge under Indiana Trial Rule 76.
In the case In Re the Paternity of N.T.; B.T. v. D.K. and K.K., No. 09A02-1108-JP-693, mother D.K. and her husband, K.K., hid child N.T. from her biological father B.T. and the state for more than three years to evade a change of custody order. As a condition of mother’s bail, she and K.K. were to have no contact with N.T. Father B.T. filed a supplemental application for contempt citation against K.K. for his active participation in D.K.’s violation of the 2003 court order.
K.K. filed a motion for a change of venue from the judge, which the paternity court granted. The paternity court concluded that the service of application for contempt promoted K.K. to actively protect his rights and defend the action, thus joining him as a party in the paternity proceeding.
On interlocutory appeal, the COA reversed. The paternity court has the inherent power to subject nonparties to contempt proceedings for violation of its orders, wrote Judge Ezra Friedlander, and the service of application for contempt did not elevate K.K. to the status of a party. K.K. is still entitled to due process, which includes notice and the opportunity to be heard, in any contempt proceedings before the paternity court.