Thursday, February 25, 2010

New Indiana Court of Appeals Case - Grandparent Visitation and Step-Parent Adoption

From today's Indiana Lawyer came COA: inequity in grandparent visitation act

A.B. and N.E. opposed L.D's adoption; the trial court granted some visitation to N.E. before the adoption was finalized. Once the adoption petition was granted, the paternal grandparents told N.E. they planned to phase out visitation with her.

The mother and N.E. appealed several issues, including N.E.'s rights to visitation as a grandparent. But based on the language of the act, her visitation can't continue now that the child has been adopted, the Court of Appeals concluded. The act provides that visitation rights survive adoption by a stepparent or person who is biologically related to the child. Since the paternal grandparents aren't biologically related to L.D., N.E. isn't entitled to visitations as a matter of law under the act, wrote Judge Edward Najam.

In addition, if N.E. had been the one to adopt the boy, then the paternal grandparents wouldn't have had any rights under the act because N.E. isn't biologically related to the boy.

"Whether this consequence was intended or should be rectified we leave for the Legislature to decide," wrote the judge.
I am actually a bit more interested in the due process issue raised as I really do not think this factual situation will be common.

More importantly, it shows how legislation and litigation interplay with one another. I doubt many in Indiana's General Assembly imagined the factual situation of the litigation when they voted on the legislation.

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