In Re: the Grandparent Visitation of G.S., J.S., Appellant-Respondent,
from the Hancock Circuit Court The Honorable R. Scott Sirk,
Commissioner The Honorable Richard D. Culver, Judge Trial
Court Cause No. 30C01-1202-DR-246
Attorney for Appellant R. Lee Money
Attorney for Appellee Larry F. Whitham Whitham, Hebenstreit
& Zubek, LLP
J.S. (Mother) appeals the portion of the trial court's
order mandating that G.S. (Child) be permitted to have
contact with other paternal relatives when participating in
grandparent visitation with M.S. (Grandmother). Mother argues
that there is no statutory authority for a trial court to
order a child to have visitation with anyone other than a
grandparent in the face of a parent's objections. We
agree, and reverse in part.
M.S. (Father) and Mother were married on October 19, 2002.
Child, the only child born of the marriage, was born in
November 2003. Throughout her life, Child had a close and
loving relationship with Grandmother, her paternal aunt, M.L.
(Aunt), and other paternal relatives. The parents divorced in
March 2014. On May 2, 2015, Father committed suicide.
Following Father's death, Mother began to curtail the
time that Child spent with her paternal relatives. Mother and
Aunt have a particularly acrimonious relationship, and Mother
did not wish for Child to spend time with Aunt any longer.
Aunt and Grandmother live together, making visitation between
Child and Grandmother increasingly complicated. For example,
Mother required that visits occurred outside of
Grandmother's home, which was difficult for Grandmother,
who is elderly and has medical concerns. On June 5, 2015,
Grandmother filed a petition for grandparent visitation.
In September 2015, Child and Mother moved to Tennessee
because Mother received a job promotion necessitating the
move. Following the move, Child's contact with
Grandmother and other paternal relatives decreased
The evidentiary hearing on Grandmother's petition took
place on June 1 and June 29, 2016. On August 1, 2016, the
trial court issued an order granting the petition. The trial
court ordered that one visit per month, for at least six
hours at a time, is to occur between Grandmother and Child,
and that Grandmother is entitled to overnights during the
summer months. In pertinent part, the trial court also
ordered as follows:
[A]ll visitation between Grandmother and Granddaughter may
occur at Grandmother's Residence or at such other
location as Grandmother may select . . . .
. . . [A]ll residents of Grandmother's house need not
leave Grandmother's Residence during visits between
Grandmother and Granddaughter, nor shall they be required to
do so. Furthermore, other members of Father's extended
family may be present in Grandmother's Residence or at
such other locations where Grandmother may choose to exercise
visitation. This shall mean that Granddaughter is entitled to
be present and to participate in paternal family reunions and
other paternal family functions, to the extent those are
scheduled during Granddaughter's periods of visitation
. . . Grandmother shall be entitled . . . [to] weekly
telephone conversations with Granddaughter. . . . During
those conversations, it shall be permissible for Grandmother
to be joined in the conversation by other members of the
extended paternal family. Mother shall not restrict
Granddaughter from speaking openly and freely during periods
of visitation or telephone contact, nor shall Mother . . .
restrict Granddaughter's activities in reaction to
Granddaughter's maintenance of a loving relationship with
Father's family members.
Appealed Order p. 11-12. Mother now appeals only the portions
of the order mandating that Child be permitted to visit and
have contact with her paternal ...