Trial Court Erred Denying Father’s Motion to Intervene in Contested Adoption

Case: In re the Matter of: I.J., Child, T.M. v. L.D. and J.D.
by Mike Kohlhaas, Bingham Greenebaum Doll

HELD: In adoption proceedings, trial court erred when it denied putative father’s motion to intervene and contest an adoption. Putative father’s intervention was timely because he registered with the putative father registry within 30 days after Child’s birth.

FACTS AND PROCEDURAL HISTORY:
Child was born to Mother on March 21, 2004. At the time of the birth, Mother was married to Husband. However, Mother promptly gave Child to Adoptive Parents who, on March 24, filed a petition to adopt Child. Mother and Husband both consented to the adoption.

On April 3, Putative Father advised the trial court that he believed he was Child’s father, and he filed with the putative father registry on April 15. The trial court appointed counsel for Putative Father, and he filed a motion to contest the adoption, followed by a motion for genetic testing. Adoptive Parents objected.

The trial court denied Putative Father’s motions on the basis that he had failed to register with the putative father registry in a timely manner. Putative Father appealed.

The Court of Appeals reviewed the applicable registry statute.  Ind. Code 31-19-5-12 sets a deadline for a putative father to register in order to be entitled to contest an adoption. However, in this case, that deadline was the later of: (a) the filing of the adoption petition; and (b) 30 days after the child’s birth. Here, while Putative Father registered after the adoption petition was filed, it was still before Child was 30 days old. Thus, Putative Father registered timely and was entitled to the related procedural rights and safeguards.

The trial court’s order was reversed and remanded.

To view the text of this opinion in its entirety, click here: In re the Matter of: I.J., Child, T.M. v. L.D. and J.D.

 

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James A. Reed and Michael R. Kohlhaas of Bingham Greenebaum Doll represent clients in a wide spectrum of relationship transition and wealth planning matters, including premarital agreements, estate planning, cohabitation, separation, divorce (especially involving high net worth individuals and/or complex asset issues), custody, parenting arrangements, adoption, and domestic partnerships. Bingham Greenebaum Doll, a multidisciplinary law firm serving regional, national, and international clients, is the fourth-largest law firm in Indiana. The firm’s main practices include corporate, property, litigation, labor, government law, and personal services law. Visit the firm’s website at www.bgdlegal.com.

ICLEF • Indiana Continuing Legal Education Forum, Indianapolis, IN

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