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Indiana Grandparents' Rights

Grandparent Subject to "Meaningful Contact" Stipulation

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Indiana grandparents rights

Indiana is vigilant in protecting the rights of parents, making grandparent visitation difficult to obtain.

Image © State of Indiana

In the state of Indiana, grandparents may request visitation in the case of a deceased parent, a marriage terminated in Indiana or a child born out of wedlock. Marriages terminated outside of Indiana must meet a different set of standards. In the case of a child born out of wedlock, paternity must have been established in order for paternal grandparents to file a petition.

As in all states, grandparents must show that visitation is in the child's best interest. In addition, grandparents must demonstrate "meaningful contact" with the grandchild or attempts to establish "meaningful contact."

Adoption cuts off the legal rights of the grandparents unless the adoption is by a stepparent, natural grandparent, sibling, aunt, uncle, niece or nephew.

Grandparents' rights in Indiana have also been impacted by case law. One conclusion that can be surmised by a study of case law is that Indiana courts may award visitation when none is offered, but hesitate to rule on the amount and quality of visitation that should be offered. Also, Indiana courts properly first consider the question of standing. In the 2002 case of Hammons v. Jenkins-Griffith, the court ruled that great-grandparents had no standing to sue for visitation because great-grandparents are not specifically mentioned in statute. (Legislation has been introduced to extend grandparents' rights to great-grandparents but has always been met with a letter-writing campaign spurred by those who oppose any broadening of grandparents' rights.) It made the same determination about lack of standing about step-grandparents, in the case of Maser v. Hicks. In other court cases, a grandparent's suit has been denied because visitation with a grandchild had not been cut off completely. In the 2003 case of Spaulding v. Williams, the court upheld visitation time that had been awarded by a lower court but denied grandparents the travel time and communication privileges that had also been awarded. In a 2013 case, In re Guardianship of A.J.A. and L.M.A., a grandmother whose son had killed his wife was denied visitation by the new guardians of the children. Although she had violated a no-contact order by allowing her incarcerated son to communicate with his children, the court's decision was based on her lack of standing, since her son was neither deceased nor divorced.

More about Indiana case law can be read in this publication of the Children's Law Center of Indiana.

See Indiana statute.

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