COA dismisses man’s appeal in adoption dispute

A man seeking to adopt his ex-wife’s child had his case dismissed by the Indiana Court of Appeals on Monday after it found no indication that he sought certification from the trial court or permission from the appellate court to file a discretionary interlocutory appeal, among other things.

In September 2005, L.B. and mother T.M. had a child together. T.M. had married M.M. a few months before giving birth, and the couple’s marriage was eventually on and off again beginning in May 2016.

M.M. filed a petition to adopt T.M.’s child in August 2015, and by February 2017, both T.M. and L.B.’s parental rights were terminated. Years later, the court held a hearing to determine whether the consent of the Indiana Department of Child Services was required as to M.M.’s petition for adoption. Additionally, M.M. filed a motion to supplement the record with newly discovered evidence, to which the court held a hearing on the motion before it ultimately denied the motion on Dec. 11, 2018.

In its denial, the trial court concluded that DCS “is acting in [Child’s] best interest in withholding its consent” to M.M.’s adoption, the refusal to consent was not unreasonably withheld, and the consent of DCS to M.M.’s petition to adoption was necessary. It later denied M.M.’s motion to correct error, which was appealed in In Re the Adoption of: S.A.C., Minor Child, M.M. v. Indiana Department of Child Services, 19A-AD-1923.

Finding M.M. to be appealing from an interlocutory order, the COA concluded that the trial court’s order did not fall under any of the listed categories in Ind. Appellate Rule 14(A). Thus, M.M. was not entitled to appeal the order as a matter of right, it concluded.

“An appeal may be taken from other interlocutory orders if the trial court certifies its order and this Court accepts jurisdiction over the appeal, Ind. Appellate Rule 14(B), or if an interlocutory appeal is provided by statute. Ind. Appellate Rule 14(D). There is no indication that M.M. sought certification from the trial court or permission from this Court to file a discretionary interlocutory appeal, and he has not stated a statutory right to appeal,” Judge Elaine Brown  wrote for the COA, dismissing M.M.’s appeal.

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