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CHINS case dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction

March 24, 2016

A mother’s appeal of a trial court’s order terminating her visitation with her child and denying her motion to modify the permanency plan in a CHINS case was dismissed by the Indiana Court of Appeals for lack of subject matter jurisdiction.

In 2011, the Department of Child Services filed a petition alleging the mother’s child was a child in need of services because mother was arrested and charged with four felony counts of criminal confinement, two felony counts of battery and six felony counts of neglect of a dependent. Visitation between mother and child was terminated nearly a year later and a few months after that, the permanency plan was changed to termination of mother’s parental rights. Mother appealed.

DCS argued the appeal should be dismissed for lack of subject matter jurisdiction, and the COA agreed. “This court’s authority to exercise appellate jurisdiction is generally limited to appeals from final judgments, certain interlocutory orders and agency decisions,” Judge Michael Barnes wrote.

The mother claimed this was a final judgment, but the COA said it was not under Indiana Appellate Rule 2(H). Even so, the mother said the court should address the case based another case the COA decided that lacked a final judgment. But in that case the child had another planned permanent living arrangement, which was not an issue in the instant case. Also, the child in that case was much older.

The case is D.W. (Minor Child) and T.W. (Mother) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services, 45A03-1507-JC-842.

 

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