COA upholds adoption venue transfer

May 26, 2016

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld transfer of an adoption petition from Greene to Monroe County Circuit Court, ruling Monroe was the preferred venue because of other cases related to the petition that also were happening there.

Grandparents were awarded custody of a child but that child taken away from them after the grandmother was found using methamphetamine. The grandparents petitioned Monroe Circuit Court and were permitted to intervene in the child in need of services case. Later they filed a motion for adoption in Greene Circuit Court, where they live, before Monroe had a chance to rule on the CHINS case.

Later, an aunt and uncle who cared for the child while the CHINS case was being adjudicated moved to adopt the child in Monroe Circuit Court. Aunt and uncle successfully moved to intervene in the Greene County adoption case and the grandparents appealed.

The grandparents argued that Greene County had exclusive jurisdiction in their adoption case, but the COA in a decision written by Judge John Baker disagreed. The Monroe court has all of the other litigation pending in its courts, and grandparents successfully intervened in the CHINS case before the Monroe court.

Baker cited In re Adoption of Z.D., 878 N.E.2d 495 (Ind. Ct. App. 2007) in which the COA ruled the Benton Circuit Court did not have exclusive jurisdiction pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 75(A), which says preferred venue lies in the county where the greater percentage of individual defendants included in the complaint resides.

“In essence, Grandparents are asking us to reverse the trial court for proactively and correctly solving the issue that arose in the Z.D. case. We decline to do so,” Baker wrote.

The case is In Re the Adoption of W.M. (minor child) D.M. and J.M. v. F.F. M.F. and the Indiana Department of Child Services, 28A01-1601- AD-56.



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