Indiana appellate court upholds CHINS adjudication for New Jersey boy

The Indiana Court of Appeals has upheld the adjudication of a New Jersey child as a child in need of services after finding the child’s mother waived her argument that an Indiana trial court lacked personal jurisdiction over her and her child.

After she was dispatched to a Marion County bus station on a report of child neglect, Department of Child Services family case manager Olivia Payne learned K.P. and her son, K.P.G., had missed their connecting bus to their home in New Jersey and had been sitting at the bus stop for almost 18 hours. After observing a hospital band on K.P.G.’s wrist, Payne took him to Riley Children’s Hospital, and K.P. admitted her son had an untreated heart murmur.

K.P. was also admitted to the hospital for mental health treatment and admitted that she had not taken her medication for two months. Thus, DCS filed for K.P.G. to be adjudicated as a child in need of services, and he was placed in foster care.

The Marion Superior Court then granted permission for K.P.G. to undergo the necessary surgery to cure his heart defect, but K.P. filed a memorandum of law claiming the court lacked personal jurisdiction over her and her son. The trial court never ruled on the memorandum – which was submitted without a motion – but adjudicated K.P.G. as a CHINS and ordered him to remain in foster care.

K.P. appealed and re-asserted her argument that the Marion Superior Court lacked jurisdiction over her and her son as New Jersey residents. The Indiana Court of Appeals, however, found K.P. submitted herself to the Indiana court’s jurisdiction by appearing in the Marion Superior Court after the CHINS petition was filed. Further, 82 days passed between the filing of the petition and the memorandum, which was well outside the 20-day time limit allowed for challenging personal jurisdiction under Indiana Trial Rule 12(B).

Thus, Judge Terry Crone said the issue of personal jurisdiction was waived. He also said there was sufficient evidence to support the CHINS determination, defeating K.P.’s second argument on appeal.  Crone specifically pointed to the trial court’s findings regarding K.P.’s mental health issues and her knowledge of and refusal to treat K.P.G.’s heart murmur as sufficient evidence to support the CHINS adjudication.

“In short, her untreated mental illness left her unable to make critical decisions concerning K.P.G.’s care and treatment,” Crone wrote. “FCM Payne’s potentially lifesaving intervention underscores Mothers’ need for the programs and services ordered by the CHIBS court.”

The case is In the Matter of K.P.G. (Minor Child), a Child in Need of Services, K.P. (Mother) v. The Indiana Department of Child Services, 49A05-1709-JC-2053.

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