from the Vanderburgh Superior Court Trial Court Cause No.
82D07-1109-JP-653 The Honorable Richard J. D'Amour, Judge
Attorney for Appellant Kelly D. Corne Corne & Corne, LLC
Attorney for Appellee Katharine Vanost Jones Evansville,
Amy Brown appeals the trial court's order granting
visitation with Brown's daughter, S.B., to Adrian
Lunsford, Brown's former boyfriend, who is unrelated to
S.B. We reverse.
Brown presents three issues for our review, which we restate
I. whether the trial court had "jurisdiction" to
order visitation between Lunsford and S.B.;
II. whether Lunsford should have joined S.B. as a necessary
party in the paternity action involving the parties'
child A.L.; and
III. whether the trial court abused its discretion by
ordering visitation between S.B. and Lunsford.
S.B. is Brown's daughter. S.B. was born in January 2007,
and her biological father is neither involved in her life nor
listed on her birth certificate. Brown and S.B. moved into
Lunsford's house in Kentucky when S.B. was sixteen months
old. When S.B. was two years old, Lunsford and Brown's
son A.L. was born. Brown and Lunsford were never married.
When S.B. was four years old, Lunsford and Brown separated.
Brown and the children moved to Vanderburgh County, Indiana.
After Brown and Lunsford separated, S.B. visited Lunsford
when Lunsford had parenting time with A.L. for "six (6)
months the first time around and then [Brown] pulled her out
for almost two (2) years and then maybe a year, maybe a
little over a year the second time around that she went . . .
so a year and a half total." Tr. p. 204. S.B. does not
want to visit Lunsford. Brown discontinued S.B.'s visits
with Lunsford "Because I noticed some behavioral changes
in her . . . she would cry a lot, she was very confused, she
was getting in trouble at school which was not . . . her at
all." Id. at 204-05. Brown testified,
"With [S.B.] [the behavioral changes were] kind of a
continual thing until she was no longer down and then, you
know, all the issues I had with school and things like that
ceased." Id. at 206. Brown does not believe it
is in S.B.'s best interests to visit Lunsford. At the
time of the evidentiary hearing in this matter, Brown and
Lunsford had been separated for over four years, and S.B. had
not visited Lunsford since "last year some time."
Id. at 23. The trial court did not appoint a
guardian ad litem, and it did not interview or otherwise hear
from S.B. directly regarding visitation with Lunsford.
On September 15, 2011, the State filed a Petition for Order
of Support in a paternity action captioned: "In re the
Paternity of [A.L.] by next friend, Amy L. Brown, Petitioner
and Adrian Lunsford[, ] Respondent." App. p. 12. The
trial court ordered Lunsford to pay child support for A.L.
Thereafter, Lunsford filed, and the trial court granted, a
request for parenting time with A.L. The parties also filed
an agreed entry regarding retroactive child support for A.L.
and a mediated agreed order regarding parenting time between
Lunsford and A.L. None of these motions and orders were
related to S.B. In June 2015, Brown, S.B., and A.L. relocated
In September 2015, Lunsford filed a "Petition to Modify,
" in which he requested an order granting him parenting
time with S.B., "his stepdaughter since he was the only
parent the child had known and that the mother has refused
any parenting time . . . ." App. p. 35. Neither Brown
nor Lunsford moved to join S.B. as a party to the paternity
action regarding A.L. On December 9, 2015, the trial court
heard evidence related to Lunsford's request for
visitation with S.B. On December 10, 2015, the trial court
granted Lunsford visitation with S.B. one weekend per month
during Lunsford's parenting time with A.L.
Brown then filed a motion to correct error and,
simultaneously, a motion to reconsider and/or rehearing. In
her motion to correct error, Brown raised, for the first
time, arguments styled as improper forum, lack of
jurisdiction, improper venue, and lack of standing. The trial
court heard arguments on Brown's motions and, on February
3, 2016, it denied them. Brown now appeals.
"Jurisdiction" to Order Visitation
Brown first contends the trial court lacked
"jurisdiction" over S.B. because she was not a
resident of Indiana and because "no action has been
formally commenced." Appellant's Br. p. 11.
Brown does not contend the trial court lacked either subject
matter or personal jurisdiction to hear this matter. Instead,
she argues, generally, that the trial court did not have
"jurisdiction" over S.B. and cites to a portion of
Indiana's codification of the Uniform Child Custody
Jurisdiction Act ("UCCJA") to support her argument.
The relevant statute provides:
(a) Except as otherwise provided in section 4 of this
chapter, an Indiana court has jurisdiction to make an initial
child custody determination only if ...