In re the Termination of the Parent Child Relationship of: K.E. (Minor Child), and A.C. (Mother) v. Indiana Department of Child Services


FILED Jan 13 2021, 9:13 am CLERK Indiana Supreme Court Court of Appeals and Tax Court ATTORNEY FOR APPELLANT ATTORNEYS FOR APPELLEE Erik H. Carter Theodore E. Rokita Carter Legal Services LLC Attorney General of Indiana Noblesville, Indiana Robert J. Henke Deputy Attorney General Indianapolis, Indiana IN THE COURT OF APPEALS OF INDIANA In re the Termination of the January 13, 2021 Parent Child Relationship of: Court of Appeals Case No. 20A-JC-1348 K.E. (Minor Child), and Appeal from the Henry Circuit A.C. (Mother), Court Appellants-Respondents, The Honorable Bob A. Witham, Judge v. Trial Court Cause No. 33C01-1711-JC-141 Indiana Department of Child Services, Appellee-Petitioner May, Judge. Court of Appeals of Indiana | Opinion 20A-JC-1348 | January 13, 2021 Page 1 of 12 [1] In this belated appeal, 1 A.C. (“Mother”) argues the trial court erred when it found she had voluntarily relinquished her parental rights to K.E. (“Child”) because the “Voluntary Relinquishment of Parental Rights Form” and the “Rights Advisement” form, (App. Vol. II at 22, 27), she signed did not include language required by Indiana Code section 31-35-1-12(9). We reverse and remand. Facts and Procedural History [2] Child was born to Mother and J.E. (“Father”) 2 on February 5, 2013. On November 6, 2017, the Department of Child Services (“DCS”) received a report that Child and her older brother were victims of neglect because of drug use and domestic violence between Mother and other adults in the home. Mother denied all allegations, and DCS removed Child 3 from Mother’s home. On November 9, 2017, the trial court held an initial hearing on DCS’s petition to 1 Indiana Appellate Rule 9(A)(5) states that when a party does not file her appeal within the required time frame, “the right to appeal shall be forfeited.” In its brief, DCS contends Mother forfeited her right to appeal by untimely filing and, thus, we should not entertain her belated appeal. However, our Indiana Supreme Court has held that, “although a party forfeits its right to appeal based on an untimely filing of the Notice of Appeal, this untimely filing is not a jurisdictional defect depriving the appellate courts of authority to entertain the appeal.” In re Adoption of O.R.,16 N.E.3d 965, 971 (Ind. 2014). When a party forfeits its right to appeal, the “question is whether there are extraordinarily compelling reasons why this forfeited right should be restored.” Id. We can think of few rights more extraordinarily compelling than a parent’s Fourteenth Amendment right to establish a home and raise her children. We therefore reject DCS’s request that we dismiss Mother’s appeal. 2 It is unclear if Father lived with Mother at this time. The trial court terminated Father’s parental rights in a subsequent order and he does not participate in this appeal. 3 Child’s older brother is not included in the appealed order, and his status with DCS after the report of neglect is unclear. Court of Appeals of Indiana | Opinion 20A-JC-1348 | January 13, 2021 Page 2 of 12 place Child outside …

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