ILNews

COA: Court lacked personal jurisdiction

Jennifer Nelson
January 1, 2008
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The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed a trial court's denial of a biological mother's motion to set aside an adoption decree because the court lacked personal jurisdiction over her and her due process rights were violated.

In In the matter of the adoption of D.C.; H.R. v. R.C., No. 22A01-0709-CV-425, the appellate court ruled the adoptive mother, R.C., did not do everything she could to contact H.R., the biological mother, about R.C.'s petition to adopt D.C. R.C., who married D.C.'s biological father, argued that even though she hadn't complied with Indiana Trial Rules when sending H.R. notice of the adoption proceedings, H.R. is barred from challenging the adoption decree pursuant to Indiana Code Section 31-19-14-4.

The Court of Appeals found that Floyd Circuit Court lacked personal jurisdiction over H.R. in the case because R.C. didn't comply with Indiana Trial Rules, which require a service made to a person through the mail be accompanied by a return receipt showing receipt of the letter. H.R. never received R.C.'s certified mail regarding the adoption proceedings; she didn't find out about the adoption until nearly two years later.

The appellate court also ruled I.C. Section 31-19-14-4 creates an unconstitutional due process violation in this case because the biological mother had the right to make decisions regarding the custody of her child.

The court also questioned whether the Indiana General Assembly anticipated the scenario of this case when they enacted this section of the code because the plain language provides that a person whose parental rights are terminated may not file an untimely challenge to an adoption decree even if the putative father didn't receive notice or if the proceedings were in any other manner defective, wrote Judge Cale Bradford.

The Court of Appeals remanded the matter for a hearing on the merits of R.C.'s adoption petition.
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  1. Based on several recent Indy Star articles, I would agree that being a case worker would be really hard. You would see the worst of humanity on a daily basis; and when things go wrong guess who gets blamed??!! Not biological parent!! Best of luck to those who entered that line of work.

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  3. Don't believe me, listen to Pacino: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=z6bC9w9cH-M

  4. Law school is social control the goal to produce a social product. As such it began after the Revolution and has nearly ruined us to this day: "“Scarcely any political question arises in the United States which is not resolved, sooner or later, into a judicial question. Hence all parties are obliged to borrow, in their daily controversies, the ideas, and even the language, peculiar to judicial proceedings. As most public men [i.e., politicians] are, or have been, legal practitioners, they introduce the customs and technicalities of their profession into the management of public affairs. The jury extends this habitude to all classes. The language of the law thus becomes, in some measure, a vulgar tongue; the spirit of the law, which is produced in the schools and courts of justice, gradually penetrates beyond their walls into the bosom of society, where it descends to the lowest classes, so that at last the whole people contract the habits and the tastes of the judicial magistrate.” ? Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

  5. Attorney? Really? Or is it former attorney? Status with the Ind St Ct? Status with federal court, with SCOTUS? This is a legal newspaper, or should I look elsewhere?

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