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Court: grandparent visitation survives adoption

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State statute clearly allows grandparent visitation to survive a child's adoption by another biological grandparent, the Indiana Court of Appeals has ruled.

In a unanimous decision today in Elizabeth and Terry Baker v. Donnie Lee, No. 36A01-0807-CV-340, the appellate panel affirmed a lower ruling from Jackson Circuit Judge William Vance.

The case involves three children who were born out of wedlock between 1995 and 2002, and whose parents were incarcerated multiple times because of substance abuse. Lee is the maternal grandfather and Elizabeth Baker is the paternal grandmother, who with her husband received guardianship of the children and allowed Lee to visit on an informal basis.

A Scott Circuit judge granted Lee formal visitation in 2007, and the Bakers adopted the kids later that year through Jackson Circuit Court. The visitation became the debatable issue, and Judge Vance determined that Lee's right to see his grandchildren survived the adoption and couldn't be defeated by "the legal gymnastics this case exemplifies."

Since the Bakers moved to Florida, the court-ordered visitation was seven weeks of the school summer vacation and one week during the school winter vacation.

On appeal, the Bakers contended that Lee couldn't have visitation because after the adoption he was no longer a "grandfather," and that he hadn't previously established visitation rights under the existing Grandparent Visitation Act, outlined in Indiana Code § 31-17-5-1.

The appellate panel disagreed, noting the legislature's intent to extend special protection for existing grandparent ties by post-adoptive visitation. The judges also found that because Lee is a grandparent of children born out of wedlock, he is classified as a qualifying relative under the state statute and able to see and obtain an order for visitation.

"The legislature did not carve out an exception for an adoptive biological grandparent who is married to a non-relative of the adoptee(s)," Judge Mark Bailey wrote. "It is logical to assume that many, possibly most, adoptive parents have a spouse who is also an adopting parent. In essence, the Legislature did not require that every party to the adoption be related to the adopted child or children."

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  1. Ah yes... Echoes of 1963 as a ghostly George Wallace makes his stand at the Schoolhouse door. We now know about the stand of personal belief over service to all constituents at the Carter County Clerk door. The results are the same, bigotry unable to follow the directions of the courts and the courts win. Interesting to watch the personal belief take a back seat rather than resign from a perception of local power to make the statement.

  2. An oath of office, does it override the conscience? That is the defense of overall soldier who violates higher laws, isnt it? "I was just following orders" and "I swore an oath of loyalty to der Fuhrer" etc. So this is an interesting case of swearing a false oath and then knowing that it was wrong and doing the right thing. Maybe they should chop her head off too like the "king's good servant-- but God's first" like St Thomas More. ...... We wont hold our breath waiting for the aclu or other "civil liberterians" to come to her defense since they are all arrayed on the gay side, to a man or should I say to a man and womyn?

  3. Perhaps we should also convene a panel of independent anthropological experts to study the issues surrounding this little-known branch of human sacrifice?

  4. I'm going to court the beginning of Oct. 2015 to establish visitation and request my daughters visits while she is in jail. I raised my grandchild for the first two and half years. She was born out of wedlock and the father and his adopted mother wantwd her aborted, they went as far as sueing my daughter for abortion money back 5mo. After my grandchild was born. Now because of depression and drug abuse my daughter lost custody 2 and a half years ago. Everyting went wrong in court when i went for custody my lawyer was thrown out and a replacment could only stay 45 min. The judge would not allow a postponement. So the father won. Now he is aleinating me and my daughter. No matter the amount of time spent getting help for my daughter and her doing better he runs her in the ground to the point of suicide because he wants her to be in a relationship with him. It is a sick game of using my grandchild as a pawn to make my daughter suffer for not wanting to be with him. I became the intervener in the case when my daughter first got into trouble. Because of this they gave me her visitation. Im hoping to get it again there is questions of abuse on his part and I want to make sure my grandchild is doing alright. I really dont understand how the parents have rights to walk in and do whatever they want when the refuse to stand up and raise the child at first . Why should it take two and a half years to decide you want to raise your child.The father used me so he could finish college get a job and stop paying support by getting custody. Support he was paying my daughter that I never saw.

  5. Pence said when he ordered the investigation that Indiana residents should be troubled by the allegations after the video went viral. Planned Parenthood has asked the government s top health scientists at the National Institutes of Health to convene a panel of independent experts to study the issues surrounding the little-known branch of medicine.

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