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J.R. v. S.P.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

December 15, 2017

J.R. and C.R., Appellants,
v.
S.P. and D.P., Appellees.

         Appeal from the Harrison Circuit Court The Honorable John T. Evans, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 31C01-1703-DC-48

          Attorney for Appellant Brittany M. Wilson Wilson & Semones Jeffersonville, Indiana.

          Attorneys for Appellee J. David Agnew Claire Lorch Hagedorn Lorch Naville Ward LLC New Albany, Indiana.

          Pyle, Judge.

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] C.R. ("Biological Mother") and her husband, J.R., ("her husband") appeal the trial court's grant of S.P. ("Father") and D.P.'s ("Mother") (collectively "Parents") motion to dismiss a custody action in which Biological Mother and her husband sought to obtain custody of A.P. ("A.P.") thirteen years after Biological Mother had voluntarily relinquished her parental rights to A.P. and had consented to A.P.'s adoption. Concluding that the trial court did not err in granting the Parents' motion to dismiss, we affirm the trial court's judgment.

         [¶2] We affirm.

         Issue

         The sole issue for our review is whether the trial court erred in granting the Parents' motion to dismiss.

         Facts

         [¶3] A.P. was born in December 2003. The day after A.P.'s birth, Biological Mother signed a Consent to Adoption wherein she consented to A.P.'s adoption, waived notice of all proceedings connected to the adoption, and voluntarily relinquished "all maternal rights, including the care, custody and control with regard to said child." (App. 17). Four days later, Mother and Father filed a petition to adopt A.P. The adoption was finalized in March 2004. Parents and Biological Mother did not enter into any agreement regarding post-adoption contact between Biological Mother and A.P.

         [¶4] Thirteen years later, in February 2017, Biological Mother and her husband filed a petition seeking custody of A.P. The petition alleged that they were seeking custody of A.P. pursuant to Indiana Code § 31-17-2-3, which provides that a "child custody proceeding is commenced in the court by . . . a person other than a parent by filing a petition seeking a determination of custody of the child." The petition further alleged that Biological Mother and her husband had been in contact with A.P. and had learned that there were conflicts between A.P. and Parents. Biological Mother and her husband also believed that Parents were planning to relocate with A.P. Biological Mother and her husband alleged that, based upon the conflicts and possible relocation, a change in custody was in A.P.'s best interests.

         [¶5] In March 2017, Parents filed a motion to dismiss Biological Mother and her husband's custody petition pursuant to Indiana Trial Rule 12(B)(6) for failure to state a claim upon which relief could be granted. Parents specifically alleged that Biological Mother had consented to the adoption and had voluntarily relinquished her parental rights in 2003. Further, Parents pointed out that the parties had not entered into a post-adoption visitation agreement either before or after finalizing the adoption.

         [¶6] The trial court granted the Parents' motion to dismiss after a hearing. Specifically, the trial court's ...


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