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Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ind. Decisions - Supreme Court today grants transfer and adopts 9/16/2010 COA opinion [Updated]

The case is M.W. v. A.W. - here is the 2-page, 5-0 Supreme Court order, dated today.

Here is the 10-page Sept. 16, 2010 Court of Appeals opinion by Judge Riley, reversing the trial court. From the opinion:

Appellant-Respondent, M.W. (Mother), appeals the trial court's grant of adoption of the minor child, N.W., by A.W. (Stepmother). We reverse.

Mother raises two issues on appeal, which we consolidate and restate as: Whether the trial court erred in concluding that Mother's consent to the adoption of her minor child by Stepmother was not required.

From today's order of the Supreme Court:
Being duly advised and having concluded the Court of Appeals correctly decided the issues, we GRANT transfer and ADOPT the opinion of the Court of Appeals. See Ind. Appellate Rule 58(A)(1).

Additionally, Indiana Code section 34-52-1-1 permits a court in any civil action to award attorney fees to the prevailing party if the court finds that either party: “(1) brought the action or defense on a claim or defense that is frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless; (2) continued to litigate the action or defense after the party’s claim or defense clearly became frivolous, unreasonable, or groundless; or (3) litigated the action in bad faith.” The record before us suggests one or more of these grounds may exist for an award of attorney fees.

As the prevailing party, Mother shall have sixty (60) days from the date of this Order in which to file in this Court a request for attorney fees incurred at trial and on appeal under section 34-52-1-1, should she choose to do so.

[Updated at 7:00 pm]Jeff Parrott has now posted this story on the South Bend Tribune website. It begins:
The Indiana Supreme Court has agreed with an appeals court in overturning a St. Joseph County judge’s decision to let a Mishawaka woman adopt her stepchild over opposition from the girl’s mother.

The stepmother, referred to only as "A.W." in court records, in June 2009 sought to adopt the then-8-year-old girl, who lived with her and the girl’s father. The stepmother cited an Indiana statute stating she did not need the mother’s consent for the adoption because she had failed to pay child support.

St. Joseph County Probate Judge Peter Nemeth granted the adoption.

But the mother appealed his ruling, and the Indiana Court of Appeals in September reversed Nemeth.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 17, 2011 04:52 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions