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In re Adoption of L.T.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

April 30, 2014

IN RE THE ADOPTION OF L.T.:
v.
C.T., Appellee J.M. and S.M., Appellants,

APPEAL FROM THE MARION SUPERIOR COURT. The Honorable Gerald S. Zore, Judge. Cause No. 49D08-1302-AD-7019.

ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLANTS: PATRICK F. MASTRIAN III, Brown, Tompkins, Lory & Mastrian, Indianapolis, Indiana; EDWARD G. BIELSKI, Bielski Law LLC, Indianapolis, Indiana.

ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE: MONTY K. WOOLSEY, Cross, Pennamped, Woolsey & Glazier, P.C., Carmel, Indiana.

BAILEY, Judge. KIRSCH, J., and BROWN, J., concur.

OPINION

Page 173

BAILEY, Judge.

Case Summary

C.T. ("Father") established his paternity of L.T. ("Child") in the Marion County Circuit Court. The custodial parent ("Mother") died, and Father allowed maternal grandparents J.M. and S.M. ("Grandparents") to assume guardianship. A guardianship order was entered by the Hamilton County Superior Court, although Child did not reside there. Paternal grandparents ("Interveners") intervened and secured transfer of the matter to the Marion County Superior Court, Probate Division, where it was consolidated with Grandparents' adoption petition. In a non-evidentiary hearing, Father contended that the Hamilton County Superior Court order was void for lack of subject matter jurisdiction. The probate court granted relief from the order and summarily awarded Father physical custody of Child. We reverse and remand for a hearing on the best interests of the child.

Issues

Grandparents present two issues for review:

Page 174

I. Whether the probate court erroneously granted relief from the guardianship order upon concluding that it was void for lack of subject matter jurisdiction; and

II. Whether the summary disposition of consolidated guardianship, custody, and adoption proceedings without a hearing was erroneous.

Facts and Procedural History

Child was born on October 2, 2010. On December 19, 2011, in the Paternity Division of the Marion County Circuit Court, paternity was established in Father. Mother was granted custody and Father was granted parenting time and ordered to pay child support. On October 25, 2012, Mother died.

On November 5, 2012, Grandparents filed a petition in the Hamilton County Superior Court seeking guardianship of Child. Attached to the petition was a "Waiver of Notice of Hearing and Consent to Guardianship," purportedly bearing Father's notarized signature.[1] (App. 130.) On the same day, Grandparents were appointed co-guardians of Child.

On January 3, 2013, Father filed, in the Hamilton County Superior Court, his " Combined Motion to Set Aside and Dismiss Due to Lack of Subject Matter and Personal Jurisdiction." (App. 37.) Interveners filed a petition in the Marion County Circuit Court to transfer the Hamilton County guardianship proceedings to the Marion County paternity court.[2] On February 1, 2013, the Marion County Circuit Court, Paternity Division, entered an order to transfer the guardianship matter and consolidate it with ...


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