from the Hamilton Circuit Court The Honorable Paul A. Felix,
Judge The Honorable Todd L. Ruetz, Magistrate Trial Court
Cause No. 29C01-1504-PO-2994
Attorney for Appellant Jonathan R. Deenik
C.H. ("Grandmother") appeals the trial court's
order that dismissed her protective order petition and its ex
parte protective order that she sought against A.R.
("Mother") for the protection of Mother's son,
H.L. ("Son"). Grandmother also appeals the trial
court's order granting Mother's petition for attorney
fees. Grandmother argues that the trial court erred by
dismissing her protective order petition based on a finding
that she lacked standing to file it and by ordering her to
pay Mother's attorney fees based on a finding of bad
faith. Finding no error, we affirm the trial court's
order dismissing Grandmother's petition and its order
granting Mother's request for attorney fees.
1.Whether the trial court erred by dismissing
Grandmother's petition for a protective order.
2.Whether the trial court erred by granting Mother's
request for attorney fees.
Before delving into the facts, we pause to note that the
record on appeal-most notably Grandmother's
Appellant's Appendix-is scant in content, resulting in
limited available facts. Contrary to Indiana Appellate Rule
50, Grandmother has failed to include in her Appellant's
Appendix the vast majority of "pleadings and other
documents from the Clerk's Record" that were part of
this protective order proceeding. For example, she has failed
to include a copy of her petition for a protective order that
explained the basis or allegations supporting the petition.
She also has failed to include the trial court's ex parte
protection order. There were other pleadings filed and orders
entered during the course of this proceeding-including a
transfer of the case to Grant County and then a re-transfer
back to Hamilton County-and Grandmother has not included
these pleadings in her Appendix. Additionally, as part of the
hearings in this case, the trial court took judicial notice
of the records from other proceedings involving Mother and
Grandmother; however, these records have not been included in
the record on appeal. Grandmother's failure to include
these documents has required us to rely mainly upon the
chronological case summary and the trial court's order on
attorney fees to piece together the relevant facts of this
We now turn to the facts most favorable to the judgment.
Mother is the mother of Son, who was born in September 1999.
Mother was granted physical and legal custody of Son by a
Grant Superior Court in a paternity proceeding filed in
January 2000 under cause number 27D02-0001-JP-21 ("Grant
County paternity case"). The father of Son is
deceased. Grandmother, who is the paternal
grandmother of Son, obtained grandparent visitation rights
after she intervened in the Grant County paternity case. The
Grant Superior Court granted Grandmother and her husband
visitation with Son for eight hours every other Saturday.
In April 2015, Mother and Son, who was sixteen years old at
that time, were living in Hamilton County. On April 12, 2015,
"an altercation occurred" between Mother and
Grandmother, and Son "attempted to intervene in the
altercation." (App. 9).
Subsequently, the State charged Mother with multiple charges,
including battery against Grandmother and against Son, under
cause number 29D03-1504-F6-3420 ("Hamilton County
criminal case"). The trial court in the Hamilton County
criminal case issued a no-contact order for Grandmother's
protection, but it did not issue an order pertaining to Son.
Additionally, the Department of Child Services
("DCS") investigated the incident. DCS "did
not seek to detain or remove [Son] from Mother's
care" nor did it file a child in need of services
("CHINS") petition. (App. 10). Nevertheless,
Grandmother kept Son in her care and did not return him to
On April 17, 2015, Grandmother filed, in Hamilton Circuit
Court, a petition for a protective order against Mother on
behalf of Son ("Hamilton County protective order
case"). It is this petition that is at issue in
this appeal. In her petition, Grandmother "reported the
child's residence as the grandmother's
residence" and did not inform the court that Mother had
obtained custody of Son pursuant to a court order in the
Grant County paternity case. (App. 10). That same day, the
trial court issued an ex parte order for protection. The
order "required Mother to stay away from . . .
[G]randmother's residence where [Son] was located and
stay away from [his] school." (App. 11).
A few days later, on April 20, 2015, Grandmother filed an
emergency petition for the appointment of guardianship over
Son. She filed this motion in Hamilton Superior Court under
cause number 29D03-1504-GU-45 ("Hamilton County
guardianship case"). In her petition, Grandmother did
not inform the court that "Mother had been granted sole
legal and physical custody of [Son]" in the Grant County
paternity case. (App. 11).
Immediately thereafter, Mother, who was then represented by
counsel, filed petitions-in both Grant County and Hamilton
County-in an effort to get Son back in her care.
Specifically, Mother filed, in the Grant County paternity
case, a "Motion for Sheriff Assistance for Immediate
Return of Child to Hamilton County, " a "Motion to
Suspend Grandparent Visitation, " and a "Motion to
Transfer to Hamilton County." (App. 11). In this Hamilton
County protective order case, Mother filed a motion to
dismiss the ex parte protection order, or, in the
alternative, a request for an immediate hearing.
Additionally, Mother filed, in the Hamilton County
guardianship case, a motion to dismiss Grandmother's
guardianship petition "due to the fact that a matter
between the parties and [Son] was already pending" in
the Grant County paternity case. (App. 11). In this motion,
Mother alleged that Grandmother had "[e]ffectively
stripped Mother of custody by denying her, as a custodial
parent, the ability to contact and parent her child."
On April 28, 2015, the trial court in the Hamilton County
guardianship case, held a hearing and then entered an order
dismissing Grandmother's guardianship petition. The trial
court's dismissal was "due to the Grant Superior
Court having custody jurisdiction over [Son] by its paternity
case." (App. 12). After the dismissal, Grandmother
"continued with the Ex Parte Order for Protection and
did not return [Son] to Mother's care." (App. 12).
The following day, the Hamilton Circuit Court transferred
jurisdiction of this Hamilton County protective order case to
the Grant Superior Court for a hearing in conjunction with
the Grant County paternity case. Grandmother then filed a
petition to modify custody in that paternity case.
Thereafter, on May 6, 2015, following an agreement reached in
a telephonic attorney conference, the Grant Superior Court
transferred the paternity case to Hamilton County under cause
number 29C01-1505-JP-659 ("Hamilton County paternity
case") and transferred the protective order case back
under its original Hamilton County cause number. Grandmother
continued to maintain control over Son.
Meanwhile, on September 25, 2015, Mother was acquitted,
following a jury trial, of the battery charge against Son and
convicted of the battery charge against Grandmother.
Grandmother "continued to deprive Mother of custody over
[Son] by the Ex Parte Order for Protection." (App. 13).
Immediately thereafter, on September 28, 2015, Mother filed a
pro se motion to dismiss the ex parte protective order and a
request for a hearing in this Hamilton County protective
order case. Grandmother filed a response, contending that
Mother's motion should be denied without a hearing
because Mother had not filed her request for a hearing within
thirty days of the ex parte order.
On February 10, 2016, the trial court held a hearing on
Mother's motion to dismiss. At the beginning of the
hearing, the trial court advised that it had reviewed the
motions filed in the Grant County paternity case that were
transferred to and pending in the Hamilton County paternity
case. The trial court also took judicial notice of the
records from Mother's Hamilton County criminal proceeding
and the Hamilton County guardianship case.
The trial court asked the parties to provide legal arguments
as to whether Grandmother had standing under the protective
order statute to seek a protective order for Son and whether
the trial court had jurisdiction to enter an ex parte
protective order. In response, Mother argued that she had had
"sole custody" of Son since 2000, that Grandmother
had filed the petition for the protective order after DCS had
investigated and "unsubstantiated" any claim
against Mother, and that Grandmother had misstated Son's
residence on the petition by stating that Son lived with
Grandmother. (Tr. 8, 10).
Grandmother acknowledged that DCS had not filed a CHINS
petition and had not sought any court intervention to place
Son with Grandmother. Grandmother, however, argued that she
had standing to file a protective order on behalf of Son
"because she [wa]s his grandmother and she was there to
witness the events that occurred." (Tr. 9).
The trial court expressed its concern that Grandmother did
not have standing and had sought the protective order
"to bootleg around the intervention of police, CPS,
guardianship, [and the] custody order on an ex parte
basis[.]" (Tr. 13). The trial court also noted that,
under the protective order statute- Indiana Code §
34-26-5-2(b)-only "a parent, a guardian, or another
representative" is authorized to file a petition for a
protective order on behalf of a minor. (Tr. 16).
Grandmother then asserted that she had standing to file a
petition for a protective order on behalf of Son because she
could be considered "another representative" under
the protective order statute. She did not, however, provide