Adoption of Jeralds, In re

Decision Date22 June 1972
Docket NumberNo. 172A45,172A45
Citation152 Ind.App. 538,31 Ind.Dec. 490,284 N.E.2d 99
PartiesIn the Matter of the Adoption of Keith JERALDS. Jack JERALDS, Appellant (Respondent Below), v. Richard Thomas MATUSZ, Appellee (Petitioner Below).
CourtIndiana Appellate Court

Lowell E. Enslen and Herbert E. Boase, McHie, Enslen & Moran, Hammond, John W. Barce, Elwood, Barce & Vann, Fowler, for appellant.

William J. Muha and Charles L. Zandstra, Zandstra, Zandstra & Muha, Highland, for appellee.

STATON, Judge.

STATEMENT ON THE APPEAL: Jack Jeralds is taking this appeal from a judgment which granted the adoption of his son to Richard Thomas Matusz, the husband of his former wife. His Motion to Correct Errors raises two questions:

(1) That the trial court's determination that he had relinquished his right to give consent to the adoption of Keith Jeralds by Richard Matusz was contrary to law.

(2) That the use by the trial court of the Welfare Department report in a contested adoption was error.

We will discuss only the second question above which deals with the Welfare Department report. Our opinion reverses the judgment of the trial court for considering the Welfare Department report in a contested adoption.

STATEMENT OF FACTS: Marcia Jeralds and Jack Jeralds were granted an absolute divorce on June 30, 1967. Jack Jeralds was ordered to pay support in the sum of Twenty Five Dollars ($25.00) per week for his five year old son, Keith Jeralds. He continued to make the support payments until April, 1968. Thereafter, he sent United States Savings Bonds payable to Jack or Keith Jeralds. No money or bonds for support were paid by Jack Jeralds to Marcia Jeralds for the support of their minor son between May 29, 1969 and May 29, 1970. Jack Jeralds contends that there was an agreement on the suspension of support payments between he and his former wife. The details of this agreement and the testimony pertaining thereto are not necessary to this decision. Marcia Jeralds remarried on June 29, 1969. Her husband, Richard Matusz filed a petition for the adoption of Keith Jeralds on May 29, 1970. A hearing on the petition was held on November 6, 1970 and the trial court rendered a judgment granting the adoption on January 7, 1971 which is as follows:

'Comes now the petitioner, Richard Thomas Matusz, by his attorneys, and shows the filing of his petition for the adoption of Keith Jeralds, a minor, white, male child, born January 28, 1965, in the City of Hammond, Lake County, Indiana, as his child and heir at law, which petition is in the following words and figures, to-wit: (Here Insert).

'Petitioner further shows the filing of the written consent of Marcia Jean Matusz, the natural mother of said child, to said adoption, which written consent is in the following words and figures, to-wit: (Here Insert).

'Comes now the natural father, Jack Jeralds, by his attorneys, and files written objections to said adoption, which written objections are in the following words and figures, to-wit: (Here Insert).

'This cause, having been set for trial on the 6th day of November, 1970, the petitioner appearing in person and by his attorneys and the objector appearing in person and by his attorneys, is now submitted to the Court for trial without the intervention of a jury, and the Court, after hearing the evidence and being duly advised by the arguments of counsel and after considering the briefs and citations of law filed by the respective parties, NOW FINDS for the petitioner on his petition and against the objector on his objections.

'The Court further finds that the objector, Jack Jeralds, has failed to provide for the care and support of said child and has not seen said child for more than one year prior to the filing of the petition for adoption and that said objector has relinquished all of his parental rights to said child and that his consent to its adoption is not required.

'The Court further finds that the Department of Public Welfare has made an investigation and has filed a report, as by law provided, recommending that such adoption be made.

'And the Court finally finds that in the best interest of said child, he should be adopted by the petitioner as prayed for in said petition.

'IT IS THEREFORE ORDERED, ADJUDGED AND DECREED by the Court that said child be and he is hereby adopted as the child and heir at law of said petitioner; that from and after this date, said child be known by the name of Keith Edward Matusz; and that he have and receive by descent or otherwise all rights and interest in the estate of the petitioner that he would be entitled to as his natural heir.

'It is further ordered that the petitioner pay the costs of this proceeding.'

Jack Jeralds filed his Motion to Correct Errors on February 23, 1971 which was overruled by the trial court on October 30, 1971. This appeal was distributed to District 3 on May 11, 1972. Oral argument was requested and completed on June 8, 1972.

Both the attorneys for the Appellant and the attorneys for the Appellee have prepared excellent briefs on their appeal in this cause and are congratulated by this Court for their professional excellence.

CONTENTION OF ERROR: Jack Jeralds urges that the trial court committed error by considering the welfare report. He has stated his contention at page 110 of his Brief as follows:

'The contention of error is the reliance of the trial court on the report as the same is reflected in the Order Granting the Adoption, to-wit:

'The Court further finds that the Department of Public Welfare has made an investigation and has filed a report, as by law provided, recommending that such adoption be made.'

'It is clear from the finding above quoted that the trial court did more than merely file the study report. The trial court used the report as evidence in a part of the determination of the issues. The maker of the report was not introduced as a witness. The report was not introduced as evidence. Jack Jeralds was given no opportunity to cross-examine either the maker of the report or to rebut items...

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6 cases
  • Adoption of Thomas, Matter of, 4-681A37
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • February 16, 1982
    ... ... Adoption of Dove, (1977) Ind.App., 368 N.E.2d 6; Adoption of Sigman v. Dohner, (1974) 159 Ind.App. 618, 308 N.E.2d 716; Adoption of Jeralds, (1972) 152 Ind.App. 538, 284 N.E.2d 99; Attkisson v. Usrey, (1946) 224 Ind. 155, 65 N.E.2d 489 ... It is presumed in a cause tried to the Court that the trial judge considered only properly admissible evidence in arriving at his decision, and disregarded any improper evidence. Adoption of ... ...
  • Hiatt v. Yergin
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • June 22, 1972
    ... ... Unfortunately, since the adoption of the present Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure on January 1, 1970, (the Rules), this part of the battleground between the parties is enshrouded with ... ...
  • Lockmondy's Adoption, Matter of
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • March 24, 1976
    ... ... ' ... 2 Attkisson v. Usrey (1946), 224 Ind. 155, 65 N.E.2d 489; In re Adoption of Sigman (1974), Ind.App., 308 N.E.2d 716; Jeralds v. Matusz (1972), 152 Ind.App. 538, 284 N.E.2d 99; In re Adoption of Chaney (1958), 128 Ind.App. 603, 150 N.E.2d 754 ... 3 Kinman acquired a Bachelor's Degree in English and History in 1946, a Master's Degree in English in 1949, and a Master's Degree in Social Work in 1961, all from Indiana ... ...
  • Adoption of Sheeks, Matter of
    • United States
    • Indiana Appellate Court
    • March 30, 1976
    .... . .' Fortson v. Iden (1966), 138 Ind.App. 432, 433, 214 N.E.2d 399, 400. Appellants rely on the case of In Re Adoption of Jeralds (1972), 152 Ind.App. 538, 284 N.E.2d 99 for their authority that the court committed reversible error in considering the Welfare reports without appellants hav......
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