ILNews

Court rules on grandparent visitation

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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What is likely to be a ruling of first impression in Indiana and one of a few nationally, the Indiana Court of Appeals today reversed a ruling that had ended a grandmother's visitation with her grandson following the adoption of her adult mother.

The 11-page ruling comes in a guardianship action involving the minor, J.E.M, in Maxine E. Handshoe v. Jessica L. Ridgway, No. 76A03=0612-CV-603.

Grandmother Maxine Handshoe is appealing the Steuben Circuit ruling that terminated her visitation privileges with her biological grandson, J.E.M, who was born out of wedlock in 2001 to her daughter, Ridgway. The grandmother had guardianship until April 2005, when Ridgeway - at age 22 - was adopted in Michigan by her second cousins. She filed a petition to end guardianship and visitation, arguing that Handshoe was no longer J.E.M.'s grandmother by virtue of the adoption. The trial court agreed.

However, in analyzing the issue on appeal, the three-judge appellate panel examined the state's Grandparent Visitation Act.

"The GVA is silent, however, on the question of the effect of an adult parent's adoption on the ability of a biological grandparent to seek visitation with his or her grandchild," the court wrote. "This is a question of first impression in Indiana. Our research has revealed that it also appears to be an issue that seldom has arisen anywhere in the country."

Relying on a decision from a Florida appeals court, Indiana's jurists found that the adoption only applies to Ridgway - not the minor child.

"We conclude that Ridgway's decision to legally sever ties with her biological mother, Handshoe, does not automatically and for purposes of the GVA sever all of Handshoe's ties with her biological grandson, J.M., who himself has not been adopted by any third party," the court wrote, adding that the mother's decision to terminate visitation could be a consideration in whether further visitation should be allowed.
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  1. So that none are misinformed by my posting wihtout a non de plume here, please allow me to state that I am NOT an Indiana licensed attorney, although I am an Indiana resident approved to practice law and represent clients in Indiana's fed court of Nth Dist and before the 7th circuit. I remain licensed in KS, since 1996, no discipline. This must be clarified since the IN court records will reveal that I did sit for and pass the Indiana bar last February. Yet be not confused by the fact that I was so allowed to be tested .... I am not, to be clear in the service of my duty to be absolutely candid about this, I AM NOT a member of the Indiana bar, and might never be so licensed given my unrepented from errors of thought documented in this opinion, at fn2, which likely supports Mr Smith's initial post in this thread: http://caselaw.findlaw.com/us-7th-circuit/1592921.html

  2. When I served the State of Kansas as Deputy AG over Consumer Protection & Antitrust for four years, supervising 20 special agents and assistant attorneys general (back before the IBLE denied me the right to practice law in Indiana for not having the right stuff and pretty much crushed my legal career) we had a saying around the office: Resist the lure of the ring!!! It was a take off on Tolkiem, the idea that absolute power (I signed investigative subpoenas as a judge would in many other contexts, no need to show probable cause)could corrupt absolutely. We feared that we would overreach constitutional limits if not reminded, over and over, to be mindful to not do so. Our approach in so challenging one another was Madisonian, as the following quotes from the Father of our Constitution reveal: The essence of Government is power; and power, lodged as it must be in human hands, will ever be liable to abuse. We are right to take alarm at the first experiment upon our liberties. I believe there are more instances of the abridgement of freedom of the people by gradual and silent encroachments by those in power than by violent and sudden usurpations. Liberty may be endangered by the abuse of liberty, but also by the abuse of power. All men having power ought to be mistrusted. -- James Madison, Federalist Papers and other sources: http://www.constitution.org/jm/jm_quotes.htm RESIST THE LURE OF THE RING ALL YE WITH POLITICAL OR JUDICIAL POWER!

  3. My dear Mr Smith, I respect your opinions and much enjoy your posts here. We do differ on our view of the benefits and viability of the American Experiment in Ordered Liberty. While I do agree that it could be better, and that your points in criticism are well taken, Utopia does indeed mean nowhere. I think Madison, Jefferson, Adams and company got it about as good as it gets in a fallen post-Enlightenment social order. That said, a constitution only protects the citizens if it is followed. We currently have a bevy of public officials and judicial agents who believe that their subjectivism, their personal ideology, their elitist fears and concerns and cause celebs trump the constitutions of our forefathers. This is most troubling. More to follow in the next post on that subject.

  4. Yep I am not Bryan Brown. Bryan you appear to be a bigger believer in the Constitution than I am. Were I still a big believer then I might be using my real name like you. Personally, I am no longer a fan of secularism. I favor the confessional state. In religious mattes, it seems to me that social diversity is chaos and conflict, while uniformity is order and peace.... secularism has been imposed by America on other nations now by force and that has not exactly worked out very well.... I think the American historical experiment with disestablishmentarianism is withering on the vine before our eyes..... Since I do not know if that is OK for an officially licensed lawyer to say, I keep the nom de plume.

  5. I am compelled to announce that I am not posting under any Smith monikers here. That said, the post below does have a certain ring to it that sounds familiar to me: http://www.catholicnewworld.com/cnwonline/2014/0907/cardinal.aspx

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