ILNews

Grandmother can't petition for visitation

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A grandmother has lost her right to petition for visitation rights after her son’s parental rights were terminated, so the trial court was correct in dismissing her petition, the Indiana Court of Appeals held Thursday.

Grandmother M.S. was granted visitation with her two grandchildren during the dissolution of her son’s marriage and after the divorce was finalized. But she violated a provision of the visitation order that prohibited the grandchildren from seeing their father while in the grandmother’s care. The children’s mother petitioned to terminate M.S.’s visitation rights due to her failure to abide by the order, which the trial court granted.

M.S. filed a motion to correct error and reconsider, which were denied, and she didn’t appeal the order.

Nearly two years later, M.S.’s son had his parental rights terminated and the children were adopted by the mother’s new husband. Then, M.S. filed a petition to modify grandparental visitation, alleging she had previously been granted visitation rights and there had been a substantial change in circumstances that warranted her visitation rights to begin again. That petition was denied by the trial court and the petition was dismissed.

In In Re: The Marriage of J.D.S. and A.L.S.; M.S. v. A.L.S., No. 63A01-1102-DR-64, M.S. argued she had “vested” visitation rights with the children before the termination of her son’s parental rights and the adoption by the stepfather, so she has standing to seek modification of the recent visitation order. Although she had established visitation rights when she had standing to do so originally, she lost those rights at the time her son’s parental rights were terminated, wrote Chief Judge Margret Robb. There were also no rights to survive the children’s adoption.

The chief judge also noted that the trial court didn’t only order M.S.’s visitation stopped; it terminated her right to visitation.

“In order to regain grandparent visitation rights following this order, Grandmother would have had to petition for those rights and establish standing anew. Because she did not file her petition until after Father’s parental rights were terminated, Grandmother no longer had standing as the parent of the children’s parent, and there were no existing visitation rights upon which to bootstrap continued visitation in the wake of the adoption,” wrote the chief judge.

 

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  1. The practitioners and judges who hail E-filing as the Saviour of the West need to contain their respective excitements. E-filing is federal court requires the practitioner to cram his motion practice into pigeonholes created by IT people. Compound motions or those seeking alternative relief are effectively barred, unless the practitioner wants to receive a tart note from some functionary admonishing about the "problem". E-filing is just another method by which courts and judges transfer their burden to practitioners, who are the really the only powerless components of the system. Of COURSE it is easier for the court to require all of its imput to conform to certain formats, but this imposition does NOT improve the quality of the practice of law and does NOT improve the ability of the practitioner to advocate for his client or to fashion pleadings that exactly conform to his client's best interests. And we should be very wary of the disingenuous pablum about the costs. The courts will find a way to stick it to the practitioner. Lake County is a VERY good example of this rapaciousness. Any one who does not believe this is invited to review the various special fees that system imposes upon practitioners- as practitioners- and upon each case ON TOP of the court costs normal in every case manually filed. Jurisprudence according to Aldous Huxley.

  2. Any attorneys who practice in federal court should be able to say the same as I can ... efiling is great. I have been doing it in fed court since it started way back. Pacer has its drawbacks, but the ability to hit an e-docket and pull up anything and everything onscreen is a huge plus for a litigator, eps the sole practitioner, who lacks a filing clerk and the paralegal support of large firms. Were I an Indiana attorney I would welcome this great step forward.

  3. Can we get full disclosure on lobbyist's payments to legislatures such as Mr Buck? AS long as there are idiots that are disrespectful of neighbors and intent on shooting fireworks every night, some kind of regulations are needed.

  4. I am the mother of the child in this case. My silence on the matter was due to the fact that I filed, both in Illinois and Indiana, child support cases. I even filed supporting documentation with the Indiana family law court. Not sure whether this information was provided to the court of appeals or not. Wish the case was done before moving to Indiana, because no matter what, there is NO WAY the state of Illinois would have allowed an appeal on a child support case!

  5. "No one is safe when the Legislature is in session."

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