Searching over 5,500,000 cases.


searching
Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.

Blankenship v. Duke

Court of Appeals of Indiana

August 9, 2019

Brian Blankenship, Appellant-Respondent,
v.
Kathy F. and Larry G. Duke, Appellees-Petitioners

          Appeal from the Perry Circuit Court The Honorable Lucy Goffinet, Judge The Honorable Karen Werner, Magistrate Trial Court Cause Nos. 62C01-1711-GU-21 62C01-1711-GU-22

          ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT Cara Schaefer Wieneke Wieneke Law Office, LLC Brooklyn, Indiana

          VAIDIK, CHIEF JUDGE.

         Case Summary

         [¶1] In this case, the trial court appointed grandparents as guardians over their grandchildren and awarded the father parenting time with the children "as agreed upon by the parties." The father now appeals, arguing that because the evidence shows that he and the grandparents do not get along, the trial court essentially awarded him no parenting time at all. We agree with the father, vacate this part of the trial court's order, and remand this case to the trial court. On remand, the trial court should order reasonable parenting time for the father, balancing his right to visit the children with the children's best interests.

         Facts and Procedural History

         [¶2] Brian Blankenship ("Father") and Shannon Blankenship ("Mother"), who are divorced, have two daughters, A.B., born in 2001, and G.B., born in 2005 (collectively, "Children"). In July 2017, the Indiana Department of Child Services (DCS) filed a petition alleging that Children were children in need of services (CHINS) because of Father's and Mother's drug use. As part of the CHINS case, Children were placed with Mother's parents, Larry and Kathy Duke (collectively, "the maternal grandparents").

         [¶3] On November 17, 2017, the maternal grandparents filed a separate action seeking a guardianship over Children, alleging that Father and Mother were "not presently capable of properly caring for" them. Appellant's App. Vol. II p. 8. The maternal grandparents requested supervised visitation for both Father and Mother:

If this Guardianship is granted, the Petitioners propose that [Father and Mother] have supervised visitation with their child[ren] at all reasonable times and places as agreed to by the parties.

Id.

         [¶4] Father and Mother appeared at a hearing on December 12. Mother consented to the guardianship, but Father did not. The trial court continued the guardianship hearing and later appointed counsel for Father.[1]

         [¶5] At the guardianship hearing, Hollie Dawson, the family case manager (FCM) in the CHINS case, testified that ever since Father had started receiving supervised visits with Children in the CHINS case in December 2017, he had attended nearly every visit and that the visit notes indicated that Father had a good relationship with Children and was attentive to them and their needs. She also testified that Father was compliant with his drug screens. However, FCM Dawson believed that it was in the best interests of Children that the maternal grandparents be appointed guardians because Children were "safe" and "comfortable" in their home. Tr. p. 187. She also believed that it was in the best interests of Children that they have a relationship with Father and that this relationship should include parenting time. Id. at 195-96. In fact, she said that reunification was still the goal in the CHINS case.

         [¶6] The maternal grandmother testified that Children had lived with her and her husband for about four years and that Father had supervised visits with Children every Sunday for two hours in the CHINS case. She added that she and her husband had a "No Trespassing Order" against Father. Id. at 54. The maternal grandmother also testified that if she were allowed to determine Father's parenting time, she would "l[eave] it up to the girls, when they wanted to see" him. Id. at 62. When asked if she would encourage a relationship between Father and Children, the maternal grandmother responded, "Well, if [Father] changed. I don't see that. But if he . . . had changed I would. Yes." Id. at 65. Finally, when asked if it would be useful for her and Father to communicate regarding Children, the maternal grandmother said no because "we can't get along together." Id. at 67. In fact, the maternal grandmother said that she had not tried to communicate with Father "at all." Id. at 55.

         [¶7] In December 2018, the trial court issued an order granting the ...


Buy This Entire Record For $7.95

Download the entire decision to receive the complete text, official citation,
docket number, dissents and concurrences, and footnotes for this case.

Learn more about what you receive with purchase of this case.