Stidham v. Whelchel, 27A02-9704-JV-211

CourtCourt of Appeals of Indiana
Citation684 N.E.2d 548
Docket NumberNo. 27A02-9704-JV-211,27A02-9704-JV-211
PartiesRocky STIDHAM, Appellant-Respondent, v. Kathy (Stephens) WHELCHEL, Appellee-Petitioner.
Decision Date25 August 1997

Page 548

684 N.E.2d 548
Rocky STIDHAM, Appellant-Respondent,
Kathy (Stephens) WHELCHEL, Appellee-Petitioner.
No. 27A02-9704-JV-211.
Court of Appeals of Indiana.
Aug. 25, 1997.
Rehearing Denied Nov. 12, 1997.

Page 550

Joe Keith Lewis, Marion, for Appellant-Respondent.

James T. Beaman, Marion, for Appellee-Petitioner.



Rocky Stidham appeals the denial of his motion for relief from default judgment. He presents the following issues:

I Was Rocky Stidham's motion for relief from default judgment filed within a reasonable time?

II Was Rocky Stidham's exhibit admissible in an Ind.Trial Rule 60(B) proceeding?

III Was Rocky Stidham subject to a suit for paternity in Indiana?

IV Should the trial court have allowed a judgment for back support for more than 10 years of payments?

We affirm.

The evidence reveals that Kathy (Stephens) Whelchel filed a petition to establish paternity of her daughter in the Grant Circuit Court on September 8, 1978. The petition named Stidham as the father. Stidham resided in Kentucky, and papers were served upon him there in care of his father. Neither Stidham nor counsel appeared in the paternity proceedings. Whelchel obtained a default judgment against Stidham on September 19, 1978. The trial court ordered Stidham to pay support to the child in the amount of $20.00 per month.

The Clerk of the Grant Circuit Court notified the Boyd Circuit Court in Kentucky about the default judgment and support order. The Clerk requested the aid of the Boyd Circuit Court in the collection of child support under the Uniform Reciprocal Enforcement of Support Act.

The Boyd Circuit Court held a hearing to determine whether Stidham owed a duty to support the child. The court had issued notice to Whelchel, but neither she nor counsel appeared at the hearing. On November 5, 1979, the court determined that the judgment and order of the Grant Circuit Court need not be given full faith and credit because the Indiana court had obtained no personal jurisdiction over Stidham.

Approximately sixteen years later, on December 27, 1995, Stidham filed in the Grant Circuit Court a motion to set aside the default judgment and to dismiss the Indiana case. Stidham claimed that he had never been an Indiana resident, had performed no act within the borders of Indiana, and had not been amenable to service of process under the Indiana Rules of Trial Procedure. He maintained that Indiana could not claim minimum contacts within the State by which the court could justify an assertion of jurisdiction over his person. He claimed the default judgment was void and subject to attack, direct or collateral, at any time.

In support of his motion, Stidham submitted an exhibit which contained the judgment of the Kentucky court and a transcript of his testimony there. Whelchel objected to the exhibit because it contained hearsay and was irrelevant. She also claimed that the certification of the court records was not specific enough to identify what was, and what was not, court records.

The trial court noted that Ind.Trial Rule 60(B) requires that a motion for relief from default judgment, because it is void, shall be filed within a reasonable time. The court then determined that approximately seventeen years passed between the time of the court's default judgment and Stidham's motion for relief, which is not within a reasonable time. The court ultimately denied the request for relief.


Stidham claims the trial court erroneously determined that he did not file his

Page 551

motion for relief from default judgment within a reasonable time. We conclude that the trial court committed no error.

Stidham sought relief from the judgment or order of the trial court under T.R. 60(B), which provides, in pertinent part:

(B) Mistake--Excusable neglect--Newly discovered evidence--Fraud, etc. On motion and upon such terms as are just the court may relieve a party or his legal representative from an entry of default, final order, or final judgment, including a judgment by default, for the following reasons:

(1) mistake, surprise, or excusable neglect;

(2) any ground for a motion to correct error, including without limitation newly discovered evidence, which by due diligence could not have been discovered in time to move for a motion to correct errors under Rule 59;

(3) fraud (whether heretofore denominated intrinsic or extrinsic), misrepresentation, or other misconduct of an adverse party;

(4) entry of default or judgment by default was entered against such party who was served only by publication and who was without actual knowledge of the action and judgment, order or proceedings;

* * * * * *

(6) the judgment is void;

* * * * * *

... or

(8) any reason justifying relief from the operation of the judgment, other than those reasons set forth in sub-paragraphs (1), (2), (3), and (4).

The motion shall be filed within a reasonable time for reasons (5), (6), (7), and (8), and not more than one year after the judgment, order or proceeding was entered or taken for reasons (1), (2), (3), and (4)....

The decision whether to set aside a default judgment is given substantial deference on appeal. Bonaventura v. Leach, 670 N.E.2d 123, 125 (Ind.Ct.App.1996). Appellate review of the refusal to set aside a default judgment is limited to determining whether there has been an abuse of discretion....

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2 cases
  • Stidham v. Whelchel, 27S02-9808-JV-451
    • United States
    • Supreme Court of Indiana
    • 18 Agosto 1998
    ...of process, any lack of personal jurisdiction would render the judgment against him merely voidable, not void." Stidham v. Whelchel, 684 N.E.2d 548, 552 (Ind.Ct.App.1997). Because the judgment was voidable it was subject to the "reasonable time" limitation of Trial Rule 60(B), and seventeen......
  • Miller v. Moore, 29A04-9711-CV-466
    • United States
    • Court of Appeals of Indiana
    • 23 Julio 1998
    ...Cindy is correct that a court's lack of personal jurisdiction may be waived if not properly raised. See Stidham v. Whelchel, 684 N.E.2d 548, 552 (Ind.Ct.App.1997), reh. denied. Nevertheless, Steven avoided waiver by raising his jurisdictional argument immediately after entering his first ap......

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