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In re Adoption of L.G.K.

Court of Appeals of Indiana

October 31, 2018

IN RE: THE ADOPTION OF L.G.K.
v.
G.C., Appellee-Petitioner. J.K., Appellant-Respondent,

          Appeal from the Lawrence Circuit Court The Honorable Andrea K. McCord, Judge Trial Court Cause No. 47C01-1702-AD-5

          Attorney for Appellant Darlene R. Seymour Ciyou& Dixon, P.C. Indianapolis, Indiana

          Attorney for Appellee Meredith L. Mclntyre Mclntyre & Smith Bedford, Indiana

          PYLE, JUDGE.

         Statement of the Case

         [¶1] G.C. ("Putative Father") filed a motion to set aside the adoption of the minor child L.G.K. ("Child") by J.K., her maternal grandfather ("Maternal Grandfather"). Maternal Grandfather appeals, raising one issue for our review, which we restate as whether the trial court properly granted Putative Father's motion for relief from judgment. We conclude that because Maternal Grandfather presented an adoption petition to the trial court in which E.K. ("Mother") fraudulently claimed that she did not know the identity of Child's father, the trial court did not err in granting Putative Father's motion for relief from judgment and setting aside the adoption.

         [¶2] We affirm.

         Issue

         Whether the trial court properly granted Putative Father's motion for relief from judgment.

         Facts

         [¶13] The facts in the light most favorable to Putative Father are that Mother and Putative Father dated and had an intimate relationship from December 2013 through October 2014. In December 2014, Mother told Putative Father that she was pregnant. Putative Father saw Mother one time during the pregnancy and did not provide support. Putative Father's parents ("Paternal Grandparents"), however, maintained contact with Mother throughout the pregnancy.

         [¶4] Child was born on August 20, 2015. Putative Father was not present at the birth, but Paternal Grandparents visited Mother at the hospital shortly after Child was born, and Putative Father's mother informed him that Child had been born. Putative Father's name was not listed on Child's birth certificate, and Putative Father did not establish paternity or register with the Putative Father Registry. Putative Father testified that he and Mother took a DNA test using a product obtained from a drugstore, and that the test showed that he was Child's biological father. Mother disputes this.

         [¶5] After Child was born, Mother and Putative Father lived together for approximately six months and acted as parents to Child. Both Putative Father and Paternal Grandparents established a relationship with Child. Child calls Putative Father "dad" and calls Paternal Grandparents "granny" and "poppy." Mother and Putative Father eventually separated, but Putative Father continued to visit regularly with Child. Mother and Putative Father jointly hosted a birthday party for Child when Child turned one year old. Maternal Grandfather attended the party.

         [¶6] Mother led Putative Father to believe that he was the biological father of Child. At some point, Mother told Putative Father that she was going to the prosecutor's office to establish child support but did not do so. She requested child support from Putative Father of $400.00 per month, which Putative Father paid at times and Mother accepted. Mother threatened to take Putative Father to court and deny him visitation unless he paid her child support. Mother and Putative Father discussed going to the Indiana Department of Health to have Putative Father listed on Child's birth ...


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