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COA: Twins to remain with guardian, not grandmother

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has affirmed a lower court’s ruling that twins from northern Indiana may be adopted by their guardian in Bloomington over the objections of the children’s father and paternal grandmother.

In In the Matter of the Adoption of J.L.J. and J.D.J., Minor Children; J.J. and T.H. v. D.E., 53A01-1306-AD-285, father J.J. and grandmother T.H. sought to reverse the Monroe Circuit court order dispensing with father’s consent to the adoption of the twins and denying grandmother’s petitions for guardianship and adoption of the children.

Mother J.S. and father have been in an off-and-on relationship that has produced four children. At one point, mother had four children under the age of 2 in her care. The twins, born in Benton Harbor, Mich., where grandmother and father lived, resided in South Bend with their mother. The mother would leave the twins with different friends and relatives often, including grandmother. Father spent some time incarcerated during the twin’s young lives and never paid child support despite a court order.

A friend of J.S.’ mother, D.E., who had been seeking to adopt for years, learned about mother and her situation and drove from Bloomington to South Bend to visit with the mother. That day J.S. signed a consent form to allow D.E. to become guardian and eventually adopt the children.

Father didn’t contest D.E.’s petition for appointment as guardian and to adopt within 30 days of receiving notice, although later he and his mother challenged the petitions. Grandmother wanted the children placed with her. The trial court ruled in favor of D.E.

The Court of Appeals affirmed on interlocutory appeal. It found sufficient evidence to support the determination that father’s consent was not required based on his knowing failure to provide care and support for the twins, despite an ability to do so. The trial court did not abuse its discretion in concluding that grandmother was not entitled to notice of the guardianship proceedings because the twins did not live with her 60 days prior to D.E. filing her petitions, Judge Patricia Riley wrote.

The Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children does not apply, as grandmother argued, because the children were considered residents of Indiana, despite being born in Michigan and sometimes living there.

Finally, the COA held it is in the best interests of the children to be adopted by D.E. They are very well-adjusted 2-1/2 year olds, the court found, and they are receiving excellent services.
 

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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