Jessica D. Grimes, Appellant-Petitioner,
Tia L. Houser, Appellee-Respondent.
from the Marion Superior Court The Honorable Timothy W.
Oakes, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 49D02-1708-MI-33590
APPELLANT PRO SE Jessica D. Grimes Indianapolis, Indiana
ATTORNEY FOR APPELLEE Robert D. Haas Blankenship & Haas
Shepard, Senior Judge.
While the mother and father of a child were engaged in
ongoing litigation about visitation in the court where they
had been divorced, the father's new wife filed a separate
petition regarding visitation in a different court.
The second court dismissed the new wife's petition on
grounds that the original dissolution court had exclusive and
continuing jurisdiction. It awarded attorney's fees to
the child's mother.
The trial court was right on both counts. We affirm.
Tia and Aaron Grimes had a child, S.G. They divorced in 2011,
via a decree issued by Marion Superior Court 1 in Cause
Number 49D01-0810-DR-49581. The court awarded Tia, now Tia
Houser, sole legal and physical custody of S.G. but granted
Aaron parenting time.
Aaron married Jessica Grimes ("Mrs. Grimes"), who
became S.G.'s stepmother. Houser and Aaron disagreed
about parenting time over the years, and their disagreements
were submitted to Marion Superior Court 1. On July 28, 2017,
Aaron moved to dismiss the case due to alleged inactivity.
Houser objected, asserting that the parties had continuing
disputes and that Aaron had failed to respond to discovery
requests. The court denied Aaron's motion on August 14,
On August 31st, Mrs. Grimes filed a petition for visitation
in Marion Superior Court 2, claiming Houser had blocked her
from seeing S.G. since April 2016. Houser filed a motion to
dismiss and a request for attorney's fees, asserting
Marion Superior Court 1 had exclusive, continuing
jurisdiction over parenting time issues. On October 26, 2017,
Marion Superior Court 2 granted Houser's motion without a
hearing, dismissing the case and ordering Grimes to pay
Houser $875 in attorney's fees.
Grimes argues the court should not have dismissed her
petition. The standard of review for dismissal pursuant to
Trial Rule 12(B)(1) is a function of what occurred in the
trial court. Bellows v. Bd. of Comm'rs of Cty. of
Elkhart, 926 N.E.2d 96 (Ind.Ct.App. 2010). If the facts
are disputed but the court rules on a paper record, the
standard of review for dismissal due to lack of jurisdiction
is de novo. Johnson v. Patriotic Fireworks, Inc.,
871 N.E.2d 989 (Ind.Ct.App. 2007).
Indiana Code section 31-21-5-2 (2007) grants exclusive,
continuing jurisdiction over child custody issues to the
court that issued the original child custody determination.
That statute was in play in State ex rel. Meade v.
Marshall Super. Ct. II, 644 N.E.2d 87 (Ind. 1994), when
a stepmother filed a petition seeking to bar a mother's
visitation even though the father and mother's custody
dispute was pending in a different court. The Indiana Supreme
Court noted the interests of children require "stability
and continuity" in the legal process, and efforts to
avoid the usual procedures through collateral attack are
prohibited. Id. at 89. The Supreme Court ordered the
trial court to dismiss stepmother's petition due to lack
of jurisdiction. See also Matter of Lemond, 274 Ind.
505, 413 N.E.2d 228 (1980) (holding trial judges and
attorneys in contempt for attempting to circumvent a Court of
Appeals decision in a custody dispute by pursuing a CHINS
petition involving the child at issue in the custody
Mrs. Grimes says she was not a party to Aaron and
Houser's ongoing litigation in Marion Superior Court 1,
but that issue has no more bearing on jurisdiction than it
did in the Meade case. Superior Court 1 issued the
dissolution decree addressing custody and parenting time and
had continuing jurisdiction over parenting time issues.
Superior Court 2 properly dismissed Grimes' petition for
Next, Grimes argues Marion Superior Court 2 should not have
awarded attorney's fees to Houser. We review the trial
court's decision to award attorney's fees for an
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