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In re Termination of Parent-Child Relationship of N.C.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 2, 2017

In the Matter of the Termination of the Parent-Child Relationship of N.C. (Minor Child),
v.
The Indiana Department of Child Services, Appellee-Petitioner. and C.G.G. (Father), Appellant-Respondent,

         Appeal from the Spencer Circuit Court No. 74C01-1608-JT-224 The Honorable William E. Weikert, Senior Judge

          Attorney for Appellant Andrew W. Foster Wagoner, Ayer, Hargis & Rudisill, LLC Rockport, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana James D. Boyer Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Bailey, Judge.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] C.G.G. ("Father") appeals the denial of his motion to dismiss a petition by the Indiana Department of Child Services, Spencer County Division ("the DCS"), to terminate Father's parental rights to N.C. ("Child"). Father presents the sole issue of whether he was entitled to dismissal of the termination petition because the fact-finding hearing was not timely conducted pursuant to Indiana Code Section 31-35-2-6. We affirm.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] On March 21, 2015, Father and F.C. ("Mother") were arrested on methamphetamine possession charges and Child was removed from their care. On June 2, 2015, Child was adjudicated a Child in Need of Services ("CHINS"). The parents were ordered to participate in reunification services; however, Father remained incarcerated in Kentucky awaiting a trial on federal drug charges and was unable to participate in services.

         [¶3] On August 11, 2016, the DCS filed a petition to terminate Father's and Mother's parental rights.[1] A fact-finding hearing was conducted on March 21, 2017. On April 18, 2017, the trial court entered its findings of fact, conclusions thereon, and order terminating Father's parental rights. He now appeals.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶4] Father does not challenge the factual findings of the trial court or its conclusions thereon. Father solely challenges the denial of his motion to dismiss the termination petition for untimeliness of the fact-finding hearing.

         [¶5] Indiana Code Section 31-35-2-6 sets forth the timeline for conducting fact- finding hearings in parental rights termination proceedings, when a party requests a hearing:[2]

(a) Except when a hearing is required after June 30, 1999, under section 4.5 of this chapter, the person filing the petition shall request the court to set the petition for a hearing. Whenever a hearing is requested under this chapter, the court shall:
(1) commence a hearing on the petition not more than ninety (90) days after a petition filed ...

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