Many out there would agree that Grandparents impact our lives in a big way. Whether it be in a role of second parent, friend, mentor, babysitter, financial supporter, et cetera. Simply put, Grandparents serve an important role in many children’s lives. This is the reason that most jurisdictions across the Country have given Grandparent’s some sort of right to visitation with a child, including Indiana. But, this right to visitation is not absolute, and instead, is limited in its application. You have to understand your rights and work with counsel if you want the legal right to contact with your grandchildren. In this blog, it address a key Indiana Court of Appeals case just recently decided that limited the rights of Grandparents to seek visitation of In the Matter of the Paternity of E.H.1
In the Matter of the Paternity of E.H., the Court of Appeals overturned the trial court’s determination that Grandparents of an adopted child have standing to seek visitation. The relevant facts are as follows: Paul Bobby was the maternal uncle of two children, namely E.H. and I.H. Paul Bobby adopted the two children after the parents’ rights were terminated. Paul Bobby was unmarried at the time that he adopted the two children. In March of 2018, Paul Bobby’s parents, Paul Hernandez and Alvina Casillas (also the children’s maternal grandparents), brought an action seeking visitation with the minor children. The Uncle moved to dismiss the action, arguing that the Grandparents lacked standing to seek visitation because the children were adopted by him, severing their maternal grandparent status. But, the trial court found that the Grandparents did have standing because the uncle was unmarried when he adopted the children, and therefore the children were technically “born” out of wedlock. Furthermore, the grandparents were now the paternal grandparents (because they were the parents of the Uncle, who is now the Father). As such, they had standing.
The Uncle appealed, arguing the trial court erred in determining the Grandparents had standing. On appeal, the Grandparents argued that paternity had been established by the adoption proceeding, and because the Uncle was not married at the time of adoption, the children were “born out of wedlock.” The Court of Appeals flatly rejected the Grandparent’s argument, claiming that it would lead to “absurd” results. Furthermore, the Court of Appeals notes that this type of situation could not have been what the Legislature intended when drafting the Grandparent visitation statutes. Lastly, the Court states that, because the Grandparents of the children are also the parents of the Uncle, the Grandparents were “improperly seeking court intervention in a dispute with their own child.” This, the Court states, is something “the legislature simply did not contemplate.” As such, the Court reversed the decision of the trial court, finding that the Grandparents lacked standing to seek visitation.
This case highlights the importance of the ever-changing legal landscape. Knowing the status of developments in the law is the key to protecting your rights, as well as being an engaged citizenry in our participatory system of government This blog post on a key new case was written by attorneys at Ciyou & Dixon, P.C. who handle all areas of family law, including grandparent visitation cases, as well as appeals. This blog is written for educational purposes only. It is not intended as legal advice or a solicitation for services. It is an advertisement.