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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Ind. Decisions - A third Supreme Court ruling today

In In re Adoption of T.L. and T.L.; M.G. v. R.J. and E.J., a 7-page, 5-0 opinion, Justice Massa writes:

M.G. (“Father”) challenges the trial court’s ruling that his consent to the adoption of his children by their mother’s new husband was not required pursuant to Indiana Code § 31-19-9-8(a)(2)(B) (2008). Because we find the evidence in the record sufficient to support the trial court’s decision, we affirm the order of adoption. * * *

Father argues petitioners failed to prove, by clear and convincing evidence, that he was able to support his children but failed to do so such that his consent to the adoption was not required. Indiana law provides a parent’s consent to adoption is not required “if for a period of at least one (1) year the parent . . . knowingly fails to provide for the care and support of the child when able to do so as required by law or judicial decree.” Ind. Code § 31-19-9-8(a)(2). The burden to prove this statutory criterion is satisfied by clear and convincing evidence rests squarely upon the petitioner seeking to adopt. * * *

Based on Father’s history of payment (and non-payment), we cannot say the trial court’s finding that Father was able to pay at least some support while incarcerated but chose not to do so was unsupported by the evidence. Therefore, it was not clearly erroneous. That finding supports the trial court’s judgment that Father’s consent to the adoption was not required under Indiana law; thus, the judgment is also not clearly erroneous, and we must affirm.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on March 11, 2014 01:29 PM
Posted to Ind. Sup.Ct. Decisions