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In re Ce.B.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

April 7, 2017

In the Matter of: Ce.B. and Co.B. (Minor Children)
v.
The Indiana Department of Child Services, Appellee-Petitioner and C.K. (Custodian), Appellant-Respondent,

         Appeal from the Vanderburgh Superior Court The Honorable Brett J. Niemeier, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 82D04-1607-JC-1191 82D04-1607-JC-1192

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Thomas G. Krochta Evansville, Indiana

          ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana Abigail R. Recker Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Vaidik, Chief Judge.

         Case Summary

         A custodian of two siblings appeals, claiming that the juvenile court erred in determining that the siblings were children in need of services (CHINS) without first holding a factfinding hearing. We find, however, that the juvenile court did hold a factfinding hearing in this case. At that hearing, the custodian, represented by counsel, chose to stipulate that the facts contained in the CHINS petitions and reports of preliminary inquiry were true. The juvenile court then reviewed those materials and, based on the stipulated facts contained in them, made a legal determination that the children were CHINS. Furthermore, the custodian does not make any argument that his stipulation should be withdrawn for cause. We therefore affirm the juvenile court.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶1] On July 5, 2016, DCS filed petitions alleging that Co.B., born October 9, 2010, and Ce.B., born April 17, 2015, were CHINS pursuant to Indiana Code section 31-34-1-1. Appellant's App. Vol. II pp. 18-19, 29-30. The petitions alleged that the children lived with their mother, N.B. ("Mother"), and their Mother's boyfriend, C.K. ("Custodian"), and that the children's father was in prison.[1]The petitions further alleged that Mother and Custodian engaged in domestic violence in front of Co.B., that Custodian was recently arrested for a domestic- violence incident involving Mother (and had charges pending against him for that incident), that Custodian used cocaine and marijuana, and that Mother used marijuana. An initial hearing was held that same day, and Mother and Custodian were each appointed counsel.

         [¶2] Mother and Custodian appeared in court with their attorneys on July 27. The following colloquy occurred between the judge, Mother, Custodian, and the attorneys:

[Judge]: [H]ow does your client [want to] proceed?
[Mother's attorney]: Your Honor, my client's prepared to stipulate to the petition and affidavit.[2]
[Custodian's attorney]: As would my client, Your Honor.
[Judge]: And you all understand by stipulating we're not having a trial? I just refresh my memory by reading this and deciding the case ...

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