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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. Just an aside, but regardless of the outcome, I 'm proud of Judge William Hughes. He was the original magistrate on the Home place issue. He ruled for Home Place, and was primaried by Brainard for it. Their tool Poindexter failed to unseat Hughes, who won support for his honesty and courage throughout the county, and he was reelected Judge of Hamilton County's Superior Court. You can still stand for something and survive. Thanks, Judge Hughes!

  2. CCHP's real accomplishment is the 2015 law signed by Gov Pence that basically outlaws any annexation that is forced where a 65% majority of landowners in the affected area disagree. Regardless of whether HP wins or loses, the citizens of Indiana will not have another fiasco like this. The law Gov Pence signed is a direct result of this malgovernance.

  3. I gave tempparry guardship to a friend of my granddaughter in 2012. I went to prison. I had custody. My daughter went to prison to. We are out. My daughter gave me custody but can get her back. She was not order to give me custody . but now we want granddaughter back from friend. She's 14 now. What rights do we have

  4. This sure is not what most who value good governance consider the Rule of Law to entail: "In a letter dated March 2, which Brizzi forwarded to IBJ, the commission dismissed the grievance “on grounds that there is not reasonable cause to believe that you are guilty of misconduct.”" Yet two month later reasonable cause does exist? (Or is the commission forging ahead, the need for reasonable belief be damned? -- A seeming violation of the Rules of Profession Ethics on the part of the commission) Could the rule of law theory cause one to believe that an explanation is in order? Could it be that Hoosier attorneys live under Imperial Law (which is also a t-word that rhymes with infamy) in which the Platonic guardians can do no wrong and never owe the plebeian class any explanation for their powerful actions. (Might makes it right?) Could this be a case of politics directing the commission, as celebrated IU Mauer Professor (the late) Patrick Baude warned was happening 20 years ago in his controversial (whisteblowing) ethics lecture on a quite similar topic: http://www.repository.law.indiana.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1498&context=ilj

  5. I have a case presently pending cert review before the SCOTUS that reveals just how Indiana regulates the bar. I have been denied licensure for life for holding the wrong views and questioning the grand inquisitors as to their duties as to state and federal constitutional due process. True story: https://www.scribd.com/doc/299040839/2016Petitionforcert-to-SCOTUS Shorter, Amici brief serving to frame issue as misuse of govt licensure: https://www.scribd.com/doc/312841269/Thomas-More-Society-Amicus-Brown-v-Ind-Bd-of-Law-Examiners

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