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Thursday, July 18, 2013

Ind. Decisions - One from Supreme Court today, re grandparent visitation

In In Re the Guardianship of A.J.A. and L.M.A., Minor Children; J.C. v. J.B. and S.B., a 7-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice David writes:

The Grandparent Visitation Statute is very specific as to under what circumstances a trial court may order grandparent visitation. It does not provide a means by which the paternal grandmother may seek visitation when her son has murdered the mother of her two grandchildren. The order granting grandparent visitation was void, and the trial court correctly vacated its original order which mistakenly granted such visitation. * * *

The trial court held, “[s]ince [Grandmother], as a parent of someone other than the deceased parent, has no entitlement to visitation under the statute, it necessarily follows [that] the court had no authority to grant such visitation[,] and the order is void at law. The order being void, Guardians may raise the issue at any time[,] and the issue is not waived.”

The Court of Appeals reversed [March 27, 2013]. We grant transfer and affirm the trial court. * * *

We hold today that the trial court’s original order granting Grandmother grandparent visitation was void and thus without legal effect. Thus, we affirm the March 26, 2012 order of the trial court finding the original grandparent visitation order was void. Grandmother never had any standing to file a Grandparent Visitation action. She was not the grandparent of the deceased parent, nor was she the grandparent of a dissolved marriage. Grandmother did not have standing under the strict terms of the grandparent visitation statute as has been stated herein. This is a case where Grandmother had no legal right to pursue grandparent visitation under the statute. Remand cannot cure the defect. The only cure is to hold the original order was void ab initio.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on July 18, 2013 10:13 AM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions