Family Law Case Review: Paternity of N.T.; B.T. v. D.K. and K.K.

Case: In Re the Paternity of N.T.; B.T. v. D.K. and K.K.
Case Summary by Mike Kohlhaas, Bingham Greenebaum Doll
(with thanks to Kathleen Rudis) 

HELD:  A stepfather may be the subject of contempt proceedings in a matter to which he is not a party. Further, once served with the motion, the non-party stepfather against whom contempt is alleged is entitled to due process, but he does not become a party and, thus, is not entitled to a Trial Rule 76 change of venue from the judge.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:  Child was born out of wedlock to Mother and Father in 1999. Mother and Stepfather have a history of frustrating the trial court’s orders changing custody to Father. In 2008, this resulted in an order from the trial court that neither Mother nor Stepfather have any contact with Child. Even though Stepfather was not a party to the case, in a prior appeal the Indiana Court of Appeals affirmed the propriety of the trial court including Stepfather in the no-contact order.

In late 2010, Father filed a contempt against Stepfather for violation of the trial court’s orders. Stepfather sought dismissal as well as filed a motion for change of venue from the judge. The trial court granted Stepfather’s motion for change of venue from the judge, from which Father now appeals.

In considering the issue, the Court of Appeals observed that “Indiana trial court have inherent authority to enforce their orders through contempt powers, even against nonparties.” However, the Court of Appeals also concluded that, while the contempt proceedings against Stepfather entitle him to due process, the proceedings do not automatically make him a party to the case entitled to a Trial Rule 76 change of venue from the judge.

The trial court’s granting of Stepfather’s motion for change of venue from the judge was reversed and remanded.

To view the text of this opinion in its entirety, click here: In Re the Paternity of N.T.; B.T. v. D.K. and K.K.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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