In the Matter of: J.R. and M.R., Children in Need of Services,
Indiana Department of Child Services, Appellee-Petitioner . D.R. (Mother) and M.R. (Father), Appellants-Respondents,
from the Tipton Circuit Court The Hon. Thomas R. Lett, Judge
Trial Court Cause Nos. 80C01-1609-JC-144, 80C01-1609-JC-145
Attorney for Appellants Scott A. Norrick Anderson, Indiana.
Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General
of Indiana, David E. Corey Deputy Attorney General
Appellants-Respondents D.R. ("Mother") and M.R.
("Father") (collectively, "Parents")
appeal from the juvenile court's determination that J.R.
and M.R. ("the Children") are children in need of
services ("CHINS"). Parents contend that the
juvenile court erred in denying their motion to dismiss the
CHINS petitions filed by the Appellee-Petitioner the Indiana
Department of Child Services ("DCS"), which motion
was made on the ground that the fact-finding hearing was not
completed within the statutorily-required sixty-day period
after the filing of the CHINS petitions. Because we agree
with Parents, we reverse the judgment of the juvenile court
and remand with instructions to dismiss DCS's CHINS
petitions without prejudice.
and Procedural History
On or about September 23, 2016, Tipton County DCS received a
report that Father was abusing Children, their older sibling,
and Mother. On September 29, 2016, DCS filed its petitions to
have M.R. and J.R. declared to be CHINS. On November 22,
2016, the juvenile court began a factfinding hearing. On
November 29, 2016, the juvenile court ordered that the
continued factfinding hearing be completed on February 6,
2017. On December 27, 2016, Parents objected to the
continuance of the factfinding hearing outside the sixty-day
limit imposed by Indiana Code section 31-34-11-1. The
juvenile court overruled the objection. On January 11, 2017,
Parents moved to dismiss, arguing that the factfinding
hearing had not been completed within the required sixty days
following the filing of the CHINS petitions. On February 6,
2017, the juvenile court denied Parents' motion to
dismiss and completed the continued factfinding hearing.
On February 23, 2017, the juvenile court issued orders in
which it found the Children to be CHINS. On March 14, 2017,
the juvenile court entered a dispositional order. On April
10, 2017, Parents filed their notice of appeal from the CHINS
determinations. On July 10, 2017, Parents filed a Trial Rule
60(B) motion to set aside the juvenile court's judgment,
which motion the juvenile court denied on July 20, 2017. On
August 10, 2017, Parents filed their notice of appeal from
the juvenile court's denial of their motion for relief
from judgment. Parents' two appeals were consolidated by
order of this court.
Parents contend that the juvenile court erred in denying
their motion to dismiss the CHINS petitions on the basis that
the factfinding hearing was not completed within the required
sixty days, the juvenile court lacked authority to enter a
CHINS finding due to the failure to complete factfinding
within sixty days, and the evidence is insufficient to
support the juvenile court's CHINS determination. Because
we conclude that Parents' first claim is dispositive, we
need not address their others.
Parents argue that the juvenile court erred in denying their
motion to dismiss pursuant to Indiana Code section
31-34-11-1, which provides, in relevant part, as follows:
(a) Except as provided in subsection (b), unless the
allegations of a petition have been admitted, the juvenile
court shall complete a factfinding hearing not more
than sixty (60) days after a petition alleging that a child
is a child in ...