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In re T.T.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 10, 2018

In the Matter of: T.T. and M.M., Children in Need of Services: C.Y. (Mother), Appellant-Respondent,
v.
The Indiana Department of Child Services, Appellee-Petitioner.

          Appeal from the Tippecanoe Superior Court The Honorable Faith A. Graham, Judge, The Honorable Tricia L. Thompson, Magistrate Trial Court Cause Nos. 79D03-1708-JC-207, 79D03-1708-JC-209,

          Attorney for Appellant Carlos I. Carrillo Greenwood, Indiana

          Attorneys for Appellee Curtis T. Hill, Jr. Attorney General of Indiana

          David E. Corey Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana

          Bradford, Judge.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] C.Y. ("Mother") appeals from the juvenile court's determination that T.T. And M.M. (collectively, "the Children") are children in need of services ("CHINS"). Mother contends that the juvenile court erred in denying her motion to dismiss the CHINS petitions filed by the Indiana Department of Child Services ("DCS"), which motion was made on the ground that the factfinding hearing was not completed within the statutorily-mandated timeframe. Because we agree, we reverse the judgment of the juvenile court and remand with instructions to dismiss the CHINS petitions without prejudice.[1]

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] DCS became involved with the Children after receiving reports that Mother had been arrested following a domestic disturbance involving M.M.'s father. On August 17, 2017, DCS filed petitions alleging the Children to be CHINS. The juvenile court began a factfinding hearing on October 6, 2017. After the parties waived the initial sixty-day time limitation set forth in Indiana Code section 31-34-11-1(a) and consented to an additional sixty days to complete the hearing, the factfinding hearing was continued to November 7, 2017. On November 7, 2017, the factfinding hearing was continued at DCS's request. The juvenile court rescheduled the factfinding hearing for January 3, 2018.

         [¶3] At the start of the January 3, 2018 hearing, Mother moved to dismiss the proceedings, arguing that the factfinding hearing had not been completed within the statutorily-mandated time following the filing of the CHINS petitions. The juvenile court denied Mother's motion to dismiss and completed the factfinding hearing. On March 7, 2018, the juvenile court found the Children to be CHINS. On April 13, 2018, the juvenile court entered a dispositional order and parental participation decree for M.M. and dismissed T.T.'s case.

         Discussion and Decision

         [¶4] Mother contends that the juvenile court erred in denying her 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 need of services is filed in accordance with IC 31-34-9.
(b)The juvenile court may extend the time to complete a factfinding hearing, as described in subsection (a), for an additional sixty (60) days if all parties in the action consent to the additional time.

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(d) If the factfinding hearing is not held within the time set forth in subsection (a) or (b), upon a ...

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