The process of figuring out visitation rights to see a child is delicate. However, the situation is even more complicated when the person seeking visitation rights is not the child’s parent. The Indiana Court of Appeals recently reversed a trial court’s visitation decree that allowed a man visitation rights to see his ex-girlfriend’s child.
In K.S. v. B.W. , No. 22A05-1102-DR-79, K.S.’s husband died shortly after she gave birth to M.M. Three years after M.M. was born K.S. was in a relationship with B.W. During this time, B.W. formed a close relationship with M.M. M.M. called B.W. “Dad” and B.W. was listed on M.M.’s school enrollment papers as her “Dad.” Two years after K.S. and B.W.’s relationship ended, K.S. got married and moved with M.M. from West Virginia to Indiana to live with K.S.’s new husband. Shortly after the move, B.W. filed a motion to be established as a de facto parent and to be granted visitation rights. The trial court denied B.W.’s request to be named a de facto parent but did grant him visitation rights. B.W. was allowed to visit M.M. every other weekend, and the court ordered the parties to meet at a halfway point between West Virginia and Indiana to facilitate the visits. K.S. appealed the visitation order.
The Indiana Court of Appeals addressed Indiana Code § 31-14-13-2.5(b)(2) and explained that a person’s status as a de facto custodian of a child applies only to the question of custody. Even though M.M. regarded B.W. as “dad” during his relationship with K.S., Indiana law does not allow for an order of visitation under such circumstances. The Indiana Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s visitation decree because B.W. is not M.M.’s father.