D.G. v. W.M., 011119 INCA, 18A-MI-2115

Docket Nº:18A-MI-2115
Opinion Judge:BAILEY, JUDGE.
Party Name:D.G., Appellant, v. W.M., et al., Appellees.
Attorney:Attorney for Appellant Karen A. Wyle Bloomington, Indiana Attorneys for Appellees Patrick L. Jessup Anthony L. Kraus Yoder Kraus & Jessup, P.C. Kendallville, Indiana
Judge Panel:Bradford, J., and Brown, J., concur.
Case Date:January 11, 2019
Court:Court of Appeals of Indiana
 
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D.G., Appellant,

v.

W.M., et al., Appellees.

No. 18A-MI-2115

Court of Appeals of Indiana

January 11, 2019

Appeal from the DeKalb Circuit Court The Honorable Randy Coffey, Special Judge Trial Court Cause No. 17C01-1507-MI-93

Attorney for Appellant Karen A. Wyle Bloomington, Indiana

Attorneys for Appellees Patrick L. Jessup Anthony L. Kraus Yoder Kraus & Jessup, P.C. Kendallville, Indiana

BAILEY, JUDGE.

Case Summary

[¶1] D.G. ("Mother") appeals the denial of her motion to terminate an order that her four children ("the Children") engage in monthly visitation with their paternal grandparents ("Grandparents") and the trial court's finding that she is in contempt of court. We affirm.

Issues

[¶2] Mother presents two consolidated and restated issues for review: I. Whether the trial court abused its discretion by denying her motion to terminate grandparent visitation;[1] and

II. Whether the trial court abused its discretion in the issuance of a contempt order.

Facts and Procedural History

[¶3] On March 1, 2016, Grandparents were awarded unspecified visitation time with the Children, who had previously lived with Grandparents for several years. One month after the visitation order was entered, Mother filed a motion to reconsider, which the trial court treated as a motion to correct error. The motion to correct error was granted in part, and the trial court entered a revised order specifying that visitation was to take place one day per month, on the first Friday. With a few exceptions, the scheduled visits did not occur.2

[¶4] Grandparents filed motions for a rule to show cause why Mother should not be held in contempt on June 14, 2016, July 21, 2017, August 14, 2017, November 13, 2017, November 27, 2017, December 5, 2017, January 11, 2018, January 24, 2018, February 22, 2018, March 16, 2018, March 29, 2018, June 11, 2018, July 12, 2018, and August 9, 2018.[3] The trial court entered some coercive orders, including an order that Mother be jailed for twelve days, and an award of $1, 000.00 to Grandparents for the payment of attorney's fees.4 There was no resumption of visits, Mother was not incarcerated, and Mother did not pay Grandparents' attorney's fees.

[¶5] On March 20, 2018, Mother filed a petition seeking to terminate the grandparent visitation. On April 26, 2018, the trial court appointed a Guardian ad Litem ("GAL") for the Children. On June 11, 2018, the trial court issued an order that Mother appear at a hearing on June 27, 2018 to show cause, if any, why she should not be held in contempt of court. On June 15, 2018, the trial court issued an order consolidating the contempt and modification matters for a joint hearing to be conducted on June 27, 2018.

[¶6] Mother, Grandparents, and the GAL appeared for the hearing. Although Mother and Grandparents were placed under oath, they agreed that they would not present individual testimony. Rather, their respective counsel would summarize each party's asserted facts and the parties would be afforded the opportunity to affirm or protest any stated fact. The GAL, who had submitted a written report, testified. She opined that grandparent visitation should continue, but only until the Children's father was awarded unsupervised parenting time consistent with the Indiana Parenting Time Guidelines ("Guidelines").

[¶7] On July 9, 2018, the trial court entered a brief order "declin[ing] termination of grandparent visitations." Appealed Order at 1. On August 20, 2018, the trial court issued an order finding Mother in contempt of court and ordering that she serve 180 days in the DeKalb County Jail. The commitment order was to be stayed if Grandparents' counsel notified the trial court that Mother had delivered and retrieved the Children as directed under previous orders. Mother was ordered to pay $14, 000.00 of Grandparents' attorney's fees. Mother now appeals.

Discussion and Decision

Petition for Modification

[¶8] The Grandparent Visitation Act provides in relevant part: "The court may modify an order granting or denying visitation rights whenever modification would serve the best interests of the child." Ind. Code § 31-17-5-7. A court will be found to have abused its discretion only when "its decision is against the logic and effect of the facts and...

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