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COA voids custody order in favor of father

March 28, 2014

The Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed the grant of custody in favor of an Indiana father because the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act to make a custody determination.

Diamond Parks and Deante Rashon Tate had a child together out of wedlock in 2009. Parks put Tate’s name on the birth certificate, but paternity was not adjudicated until 2013. Parks moved to Mississippi with D.T. after a domestic battery incident.

In July 2011, she filed an action in Mississippi seeking Medicaid benefits and child support from Tate. A request for paternity determination and child support enforcement under the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act was sent to Indiana, where the Madison County prosecutor filed a UIFSA action in the Indiana trial court.

Shortly after paternity was established, Tate sought custody of D.T. through the Indiana trial court. Parks had consented for D.T. to be in Indiana with Tate to attend a memorial service for Tate’s mother, but she never received notice of the motion for change of custody. It wasn’t until she came to Indiana and picked him up did she learn the trial court granted Tate full custody. He had listed his aunt’s address as Parks’ address for purposes of service of process.

The trial court denied mother’s motion to correct error as well as her emergency motion to vacate the custody order pursuant to Trial Rule 60(B)(6). The trial court ruled Parks didn’t establish that an emergency existed as alleged in the title of her motion.

Trial Rule 60(B)(6) does not require a showing of “emergency” circumstances, but just that a judgment be “void,” Judge Terry Crone wrote in In Re Paternity of D.T. (Minor Child) Diamond T. Parks (Mother) v. Deante Rashon Tate (Father), 48A05-1309-JP-486.

“Shortly after the paternity order was issued, Father filed a pro se motion under the same cause number seeking full custody of D.T., who was with him in Indiana pending attendance at a family memorial service. Curiously, the trial court adjudicated the custody request as part of the UIFSA cause of action, even though UIFSA specifies that the court lacks jurisdiction to make such a determination absent a stipulation between the parties. The record is devoid of documentation indicating any such stipulation, and Mother never received notice of the custody hearing. As such, she cannot be deemed to have stipulated to the trial court’s jurisdiction over the matter,” Crone wrote.

The judges also ordered UIFSA proceedings reinstated. The prosecutor dismissed them after custody was awarded to father.
 

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