IN RE THE GUARDIANSHIP OF C.R. AND A.R., E.R., Appellant,
M.S. AND D.S., Appellees
APPEAL FROM THE TIPPECANOE CIRCUIT COURT. The Honorable Benjamin A. Diener, Special Judge. Cause No. 79C01-1205-GU-45.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT: DANIEL J. MOORE, Laszynski & Moore, Lafayette, Indiana.
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEES: KATHLEEN M. SWEENEY, Sweeney Hayes, LLC, Indianapolis, Indiana.
BRADFORD, Judge. BARNES, J., and BROWN, J., concur.
Appellant E.R. is the maternal grandfather and adoptive father of minor children C.R. and A.R (collectively " the Children" ). Appellees are the paternal grandparents of the Children (the " Grandparents" ). The trial court awarded Grandparents visitation rights and, upon Grandparents' motion, ordered that a visitation evaluation be conducted. E.R. appeals the trial court's order on the visitation evaluation, arguing that the trial court did not have the authority to order the evaluation. E.R. does not contest the trial court's decision regarding the parameters of the visitation granted to Grandparents. Finding that
the trial court did not have the authority to order a visitation evaluation, we reverse.
FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY
On August 5, 2013, this court issued a memorandum decision regarding a prior appeal in this case. In re Guardianship of C.S.,
992 N.E.2d 234 (Ind.Ct.App. 2013). As outlined in that decision, the relevant background of this case is as follows:
The facts are that the biological parents of C.S. and A.S. divorced in May 2009. At the time, they had two children: four-year-old C.S. and two-year-old A.S. Approximately one month later, Biological Father went to Biological Mother's house and attacked her with a hammer, killing her. C.S. witnessed at least a portion of the attack. Shortly after Biological Mother's death, the children were the focus of a CHINS proceeding that culminated in the children being placed in Adoptive Father's custody. In conjunction with that proceeding, the court determined that the Paternal Grandparents would have visitation with the children one day each week, plus every other weekend.
In January 2010, Adoptive Father sought guardianship of C.S. and A.S. His request was granted. At some point, the Paternal Grandparents sought to have Adoptive Father removed as guardian, and further sought guardianship of the children themselves. Meanwhile, Adoptive Father observed that the children began to exhibit behavioral problems after returning from visits with the Paternal Grandparents. These problems included nightmares, night terrors, and C.S. waking up screaming in the middle of the night. Adoptive Father petitioned the court to reduce the amount of the Paternal Grandparents' visitation to one visit per month. Following a hearing, the trial court denied the request and ordered that the existing visitation order remain in effect.
Gloria Hood, a long-time therapist who worked at the Indiana Center for Children and Families, had been appointed by the court to work therapeutically with the children shortly after their mother's murder. During her work with the children, Hood consulted on a regular basis with Dr. Ann Annamis, a psychiatrist practicing with North Meridian Psychiatric Associates. Hood and Annamis discussed the case " frequently" . Transcript at 16. During the course of working with the children, utilizing especially the therapeutic technique of play therapy, Hood eventually diagnosed C.S. as suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). In December 2010, Hood was asked to engage the services of another health-care professional, in this case psychiatrist Dr. David Crane, to " make sure that my assessment of [C.S.] in particular was on target and that I was not missing anything psychiatrically that I should be aware of." Id. at 19. Dr. Crane reviewed materials that Hood sent him in relation to her therapy with the children and conducted several therapy sessions with C.S. He formed the opinion that she was doing " a very adequate job" and thus, although he continued to counsel separately with C.S., Dr. Crane adopted a relatively passive therapeutic role with the child. Id. at 75.
As therapy progressed, Hood noted that C.S. " experience[ed] ...