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COA: Grandma didn't have standing to petition for visitation

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed the denial of a mother’s request to set aside grandparent visitation, finding the grandmother filed her petition in the incorrect court.

In Visitation of P.V.D. and P.I.D.; P.M. v. K.B., No. 45A03-1102-JM-79, mother P.M. challenged the grant of grandparent visitation rights to her mother K.B. P.M.’s two children were born out of wedlock, but P.M. moved to Illinois to be with their father and the two later married.

Before P.M. married, K.B. filed a petition for visitation in Lake County under the Grandparent Visitation Act. P.M. asked for a hearing to be continued because she was injured in a car accident and unable to travel, but the trial court denied her request and conducted a hearing on the grandmother’s petition. Neither parent of the minor children was present for the hearing.

The trial court concluded that the grandmother had overcome the presumption that the parents’ wishes to limit her visitation were in the children’s best interests, and that both parents should be defaulted for not appearing. The judge ordered K.B. the “maximum grandparent visitation rights allowed under Indiana law,” which included one weekend a month, Thanksgiving Day, Christmas Eve, and New Year’s Day.

K.B. later filed a motion to find the parents in contempt of the visitation order. The trial court found the parents in contempt and ordered father to 30 days in jail, which was withheld if he complied with the order. The parents were also ordered to pay K.B.’s attorney fees and allow for double visitation for the next three months to make up for the time that K.B. lost.

P.M. filed a motion to dismiss, arguing that K.B. didn’t have standing to seek visitation under the GVA, which the trial court denied. The trial court found it had jurisdiction by virtue of the children’s relocation to another state less than six months before K.B. filed her petition and the fact that no action for visitation had been filed in Illinois.

But the action should have been filed in Illinois instead of Lake County, the appellate court concluded. Indiana Code 31-17-5-4 requires the grandparent seeking visitation rights to file the petition in a court in the county in which the children reside. In addition, P.M. and her husband haven’t dissolved their marriage in any Indiana court, so under the plain language of the statute, Lake County is not the proper venue for the petition, wrote Judge Cale Bradford.

The judges reversed the denial of P.M.’s motion to set aside the visitation order, and remanded with instructions to rescind the previous order granting K.B. visitation with the children under the GVA. Any future requests for visitation should be filed in the county in which the children live in Illinois.

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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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