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Justices: Order giving grandmother visitation rights is void

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Because a grandmother did not have standing under the terms of Indiana’s Grandparent Visitation Statute to pursue visitation, the Indiana Supreme Court affirmed the trial court’s finding that an original order granting visitation is void. The woman wanted to see her two grandchildren whose mother was murdered by the grandmother’s son.

Paternal grandmother J.C. filed a petition to intervene in the guardianship of A.J.A. and L.M.A., who were in the custody of their uncle and his partner after their father murdered their mother. J.C. sought grandparent visitation rights and was granted supervised visitation in 2009. The guardians later sought to end her visitation rights after learning J.C. allowed contact between grandchildren and her son, who was in prison for the murder.

In 2012, the trial court declared the 2009 order void after finding J.C. lacked standing under the Grandparent Visitation Statute.

The law allows grandparents to petition for visitation if the child’s parent is deceased, the marriage of the child’s parents has been dissolved in Indiana, or the child was born out of wedlock. J.C. claimed that her son should be considered deceased because of his 60-year prison sentence or that the marriage between her son and his wife is dissolved because of the murder.

“In the present case, both of Grandmother’s theories would produce an absurd result. Her first theory, that her son is for all intents and purposes deceased, unfortunately attempts to circumvent the strict interpretation the statute is due and therefore her argument fails. Her son is not dead,” Justice Steven David wrote. “Grandmother’s other theory for grandparent visitation is that by virtue of the murder, the marriage was dissolved. This produces an even more nonsensical result. We cannot construe any scenario where the General Assembly intended the Grandparent Visitation Act to potentially require grandparent visitation by the mother of an individual who shot and killed the grandchildren’s other parent.”

The justices held that the original order granting J.C. visitation was void and thus without legal effect. They affirmed the 2012 order finding the same result.

“This is a case where Grandmother had no legal right to pursue grandparent visitation under the statute. Remand cannot cure the defect. The only cure is to hold the original order was void ab initio,” David wrote in In Re the Guardianship of A.J.A. and L.M.A., Minor Children; J.C. v. J.B. and S.B., 48S02-1305-GU-398.

 

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  • Thank you
    I could not be happier that the Supreme Court affirmed the Trial Court. It has been a four year battle fighting for what was right for us and I am relieved to know that it is almost over.

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  1. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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