In a recent case
In Re The Guardianship of A.J.A. and L.M.A., J.C. v. J.B. and S.B.
, the Indiana Court of Appeals reversed an order vacating paternal grandmother's
grandparent visitation rights on the basis that the trial court initially
granting the grandparent rights lacked the statutory authority to do so.
The Court of Appeals found, however, that the guardians' objections
to her want of standing were waived when the guardians failed to appeal
the original order.
J.C. is the mother of M.A., who had two daughters with his wife. The girls
were home when he shot and killed his wife. M.A. went to prison and the
girls moved in with M.A.'s half brother, J.B., and his partner, S.B.
The couple later filed for guardianship of the girls, in which the grandmother,
(J.C.) filed a motion to intervene and a petition for grandparent visitation.
The grandmother was eventually granted unsupervised grandparent visitation
on a strict schedule. The guardians didn't appeal the original order
or the amended order. After the grandmother initiated a telephone call
between one of the girls and her incarcerated father, the guardians sought
to terminate the grandmother's visitation. They claimed she never
had standing under the grandparent visitation statute. The grandmother
argued that the guardians waived their standing by consenting to the provisional
visitation agreement and by not appealing the original visitation order.
The trial court ruled in favor of the guardians and vacated the visitation order.
The Court of Appeals reversed the trial court and concluded that, although
the grandmother lacked standing to pursue the original grandparent visitation
order, the guardians' objections to the grandmother's standing
were waived when the guardians failed to appeal the original order. The
Court also concluded that the grandmother's visitation rights were
not terminated by the adoption of the minor children, because they were
adopted by their uncle and his partner, and not a non-relative third-party.
However, the grandmother's fight may not be over yet. The Court of
Appeals did mention that the subject may be revisited. "Given that
nearly a year has passed since the grandparent visitation order has been
vacated, it may be wise for the trial court to schedule a hearing sua
sponte on the children's best interests to determine whether and to
what extent grandparent visitation should occur in the future," Judge
John Baker wrote in
In Re The Guardianship of A.J.A. and L.M.A., J.C. v. J.B. and S.B., 48A02-1204-GU-326.