Court orders hearing on child’s best interests

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The Indiana Court of Appeals has reversed an order giving a father physical custody of his child. The child’s maternal grandparents had assumed guardianship of the child following the death of the child’s mother.

Mother had custody of L.T., and father C.T. was granted parenting time and ordered to pay child support when mother died in October 2012. Her parents filed a petition in Hamilton Superior Court seeking guardianship of the child. Father purportedly consented and they were appointed co-guardians.

C.T.’s parents filed a petition in Marion Circuit Court to transfer the case to Marion County paternity court; the Hamilton County court transferred the case. It was consolidated with the maternal grandparents’ petition to adopt filed in probate court in Marion County. The Marion County court determined that Hamilton County did not have subject matter jurisdiction over the guardianship proceedings and terminated the grandparents’ guardianship. The court ordered the child immediately returned to C.T.

The Court of Appeals noted in In Re the Adoption of L.T.: J.M. and S.M. v. C.T., 49A05-1310-AD-493, that father confuses subject matter jurisdiction and venue. Had the subject of the child’s custody been first properly brought before the Marion County juvenile court for litigation, the Hamilton County probate court would have been precluded from making a custody determination regarding the same child, even if the child was a Hamilton County resident, Judge L. Mark Bailey wrote.

But the filing of a case in a county in which venue does not properly reside does not divest the trial court of subject matter jurisdiction.

The Hamilton County Superior Court, Probate Division did not lack subject matter jurisdiction to conduct guardianship proceedings. When the court was informed of its lack of proper venue and the Marion County paternity proceedings, the matter was transferred. Upon consolidation in the Marion County Superior Court, Probate Division, it was then incumbent upon the probate court to complete the proceeding. The probate court erred in granting relief from the guardianship order on grounds that the order was void for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

Father argued that upon the child’s mother’s death, the child should have immediately been returned to him as the surviving parent since paternity had already been established.

“Ultimately, however, we need not decide whether, upon death of one parent, the surviving parent is entitled to automatic extinguishment of an existing guardianship. Those are not the circumstances of this case,” Bailey wrote. “Here, Father relinquished a right to custody of Child immediately upon Mother’s death. For reasons no yet developed in a best interests hearing, Father signed – subsequent to Mother’s death – a consent to guardianship of Child. As no hearing has been conducted, the record on appeal is devoid of any evidence of changed circumstances.”

The judges ordered a hearing on the best interests of the child.


  • truth b told
    Also I filed forgery charges in Hamilton county and also in Marion county and nobody seems to care because the officer said it will sit in a drawer and collect dust before it gets to a prosecutor because my child belonging to me from being stole from me isn't important as "real"forgery...sad world but luckily I have great parent...I couldn't imagine anyone going thru this knowing u are a great parent and won multiple times in court..never lost in 5 courts. ..sad but u only get so many doors and they are running out...
  • truth b told
    I'm the guy going through this and the point that is being missed is I never consented or waived anything and they forged my signature as well as the notary so this is the reason why justice hasn't been served and its gonna take a best interest hearing which we already done in a brief but I never got to show all the forged evidence so I will let u know in October 272829..smh 2 yrs because they depend on people to run out of money first sad world but my daughter comes first. .
    • Screwed
      This is what happened to me. My Ex-wife was killed in a Car wreck which was driven by her brother. In the vehicle was my daughter and my ex wife's parents. Tragically the Grandparents and my ex were killed in a Roll Over. The Uncle and my daughter survived. I went to Court 2 weeks after being informed as to what occurred. We went thru the motions etc...then the Best interest of the Child was brought into play.Because her uncle(who was convicted numerous times of drunk driving) had visited and or had a direct contact in that community(I live in Indy) with my daughter the Court awarded him! custody,I will say nothing about the brainwashing and foot dragging by the Courts,the courts callous and indifferent behaviour and attitude was of the highest caliber of disgusting.I pity this man,suffice it to say,I have zero contact with my daughter.I wish him luck.

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