ILNews

COA reverses vacation of grandparent visitation

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Even though a grandmother lacked standing to pursue a grandparent visitation order when it was granted, the trial court erred in later vacating the order, the Indiana Court of Appeals ruled. The grandchildren’s guardians’ objections to the grandmother’s lack of standing were waived when they failed to appeal the original order.

J.C. is the mother of M.A., who had two daughters with his wife. The girls were home when he shot and killed his wife. M.A. went to prison and the girls moved in with M.A.’s half brother J.B. and his partner S.B. The couple later filed for guardianship of the girls, in which the grandmother filed to intervene and a petition for visitation.

J.C. was eventually granted unsupervised grandparent visitation on a strict schedule. The guardians didn’t appeal the original order or an amended order. After the grandmother initiated a telephone call between one of the girls and her incarcerated father, the guardians sought to terminate J.C.’s visitation. They claimed she never had standing under the grandparent visitation statute. J.C. argued that the guardians waived their standing by consenting to the provisional visitation agreement and by not appealing the original visitation order.

The trial court ruled in favor of the guardians and vacated the visitation order.

The Court of Appeals reversed, pointing out that the grandmother’s appeal is not moot because the girls were adopted by J.B., who is the girls’ uncle. It does not matter that S.B. is not biologically related to the girls.

J.C. does not have standing under the Act because she is the parent of M.A., who is still alive and her son’s marriage was not dissolved at the time of his wife’s death. But although the initial visitation order was erroneous, the guardians waived their objections to J.C.’s standing when they failed to appeal.

“Given that nearly a year has passed since the grandparent visitation order has been vacated, it may be wise for the trial court to schedule a hearing sua sponte on the children’s best interests to determine whether and to what extent grandparent visitation should occur in the future,” Judge John Baker wrote in In Re The Guardianship of A.J.A. and L.M.A., J.C. v. J.B. and S.B., 48A02-1204-GU-326.

 

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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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