Mother loses custody after COA rules trial court had jurisdiction

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A mother’s argument that the trial court did not have jurisdiction to grant full custody of her daughter to the girl’s father did not convince the Indiana Court of Appeals, which found an agreement between the parents gave the court jurisdiction.

In In re the Paternity of J.G. (minor child), H.G. v. T.C. III, 13A01-1403-JP-141, the Court of Appeals affirmed the Crawford Circuit Court’s decision to modify the custody order and award custody to the father, T.C.

The mother, H.G., appealed the trial court’s ruling, arguing the lower court lacked subject matter jurisdiction. She claimed since this case was opened as a paternity cause pursuant to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act, the trial court would have had jurisdiction only over paternity and child support.

The mother asserted the circuit court could not address custody and parenting time because there was never an explicit stipulation giving the court that ability.

The Court of Appeals disagreed. It pointed to the visitation order that stated the parties entered into an agreement regarding custody and parenting time which the trial court approved.

“By entering into an agreement regarding custody and visitation, placing it on the record in the paternity proceeding, and having the trial court approve the agreement and incorporate it into an order in the paternity proceeding, the parties implicitly stipulated to the trial court’s subject matter jurisdiction regarding visitation and custody under the UIFSA,” Judge John Baker wrote for the court. “That stipulation had full force and effect throughout the continuing litigation of those same issues over the years.”


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