IN RE THE PATERNITY OF: J.G. (Minor Child), H.G., Appellant-Petitioner,
T.C. III, Appellee-Respondent
APPEAL FROM THE CRAWFORD CIRCUIT COURT. The Honorable John T. Evans, Special Judge. Cause No. 13C01-0808-JP-13.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: HOLLIS A. BRUCE III, Austin & Bruce, LLC, Corydon, Indiana.
BAKER, Judge. KIRSCH, J., and ROBB, J., concur.
H.G. (Mother) appeals the trial court's order granting the request of T.C. III (Father) to modify the parties' child custody and child support orders. Mother argues that the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction and that it abused its discretion in modifying the existing custody order. We find that by entering into an agreement regarding child custody and visitation as part of the paternity proceeding, Mother stipulated to the jurisdiction of the trial court over those issues. Further, finding no error in the trial court's decision to modify the order and award custody to Father, we affirm.
J.G. was born to Mother and Father on September 29, 2005, in Louisville, Kentucky. Following J.G.'s birth, Mother and J.G. moved around the country multiple times, to multiple states, periodically returning to Indiana. Father and his mother (Grandmother) live in Crawford County, Indiana.
In August 2008, Mother filed a request for food stamps through the State of Kansas. As part of that process, Mother was required to request child support from Father. The State of Kansas forwarded the request to the Crawford County prosecutor pursuant to the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act (UIFSA). The Crawford County prosecutor opened a paternity cause, requesting that the matter be set for issues of custody, parenting time, and child support.
On January 22, 2009, the trial court entered an order establishing Father's paternity and ordering that he pay child support in the amount of $53 per week. The trial court also ordered, pursuant to an agreement reached by Mother and Father, that Mother would have custody of J.G. and Father would have parenting time
and telephone contact with J.G. pursuant to an agreed-upon schedule. At the time the order was entered, Mother and J.G. had relocated to Ohio. At some point in 2010, they again relocated to Kansas.
Father was able to exercise parenting time sporadically from 2010 through 2012. J.G. spent all of summer 2012 with Father. Mother agreed to relocate to Indiana. Father and Grandmother enrolled J.G. in school in Marengo, where she attended for the first semester of the 2012-13 school year. Mother relocated to Indiana in November 2012 and moved into a boarding house.
At some point, Mother decided to relocate J.G. to Nevada, though she did not share her intention with Father or Grandmother. During winter break, Mother moved J.G. to Las Vegas without informing Father. He learned of J.G.'s absence when the school called after she failed to report for classes at the start of the new semester. At first, Mother claimed that J.G. was absent from school because she was sick, but eventually Father and Grandmother learned that Mother had moved J.G. to Nevada.
Immediately upon learning what had happened, Father filed a pro se minute entry with the trial court. Among other things, Father's entry stated as follows:
o " I am requesting a hearing for change of custody as soon as possible due to the neglect of [Mother], in not returning her to school after the holidays."
o " [Mother] brought [J.G.] to me at the end of May  and did not return until November. During that time [Mother] stayed in Kansas, Alabama, and back to Kansas, not calling more than once or twice a month."
o " After Christmas, [Mother] got to have [J.G.] for visitation and [was] supposed to return on the 2nd of January so she could go to school on the 3rd. [J.G.] was not returned and did not go to school. We called to find out why ...