Attorney for Appellant Attorney for Appellee
Aric J. Rutkowski Aladean M. DeRose
The Blanford Law Office South Bend, Indiana
South Bend, Indiana
Lisa Marie Pedraza,
Appellant (Petitioner below),
Appeal from the St. Joseph Probate Court, No. 71J01-0208-JP-635
The Honorable Peter J. Nemeth, Judge
On Petition To Transfer from the Indiana Court of Appeals, No. 71A05-0302-JV-93
August 26, 2004
This appeal challenges the trial court's dismissal of a paternity action for lack
of personal jurisdiction over the alleged father. In a memorandum decision, the
Court of Appeals reversed in part and remanded. We granted transfer and
now affirm the trial court.
The mother, Lisa Marie Pedraza, filed a petition to establish paternity, child support, and parenting time, alleging Brian Gasperson was the biological father of her infant child, A.B. The alleged father filed a motion to dismiss, alleging lack of in personam jurisdiction. In its order granting the motion, the trial court summarized the relevant facts as follows:
The facts are without dispute. Mr. Gasperson has never had contact with the State of Indiana. [A.B.] was not conceived here nor was she born here. She does, however, live here now and has lived here for more than six months. Mr. Gasperson has never visited
nor lived in Indiana.
Appellant's Appendix at 4. See footnote The trial court held that, although it had subject matter jurisdiction to decide paternity cases, and the authority to hear this case because Indiana was A.B.'s home state under the Uniform Child Custody Jurisdiction Law ("UCCJL"), Ind. Code § 31-17-3-3, it did not have personal j urisdiction over the alleged father, a non-resident of this state, because of the absence of sufficient minimal contacts required by the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment and Indiana Trial Rule 4.4.
In her appeal, the mother does not challenge the trial court's factual findings
but contends that the trial court properly had jurisdiction to issue an order
establishing paternity and to determine custody and parenting time by reason of the
UCCJL because A.B. had been an Indiana resident for more than six months
and that it is in the child's best interest for the trial court
to assume jurisdiction. Citing Matter of Paternity of Robinaugh, 616 N.E.2d 409
(Ind. Ct. App. 1993), she urges that her paternity action, as a proceeding
relating to custody and the adjudication of status, is an exception to the
minimum contacts requirement normally associated with personal jurisdiction. The mother presents no
argument that she complied with Indiana Trial Rule 4.4, which specifies the grounds
for Indiana courts to exercise jurisdiction over non-residents.
In Robinaugh, the Court of Appeals affirmed the denial of a mother's motion
to dismiss an Indiana paternity action filed by the alleged biological father seeking
to establish his paternity and for custody of an infant child. Acknowledging
that the child was born and remained a resident of Indiana, the mother
asserted that both she and the alleged father were residents of Arizona where
she became pregnant with the child. She argued that Indiana did not
have personal jurisdiction over her because her single venture into Indiana to give
birth to the child did not satisfy the "minimum contacts" requirements of International
Shoe Co. v. Washington, 326 U.S. 310, 66 S.Ct. 154, 90 L.Ed. 95
(1945). Because custody was being sought in the paternity action, the
Court of Appeals held that the action was subject to the Uniform Child
Custody Jurisdiction Law, and stated: "[c]ustody proceedings are adjudications of status, and as
such are an exception to the minimum contacts requirements normally associated with discussions
of personal jurisdiction." Robinaugh, 616 N.E.2d at 411. Because transfer was
not sought, we did not review this opinion.
Five years later, however, we decided Stidham v. Whelchel, 698 N.E.2d 1152, 1154
(Ind. 1998), a paternity action, and held that a judgment entered without minimum
contacts violates the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment. We stated:
A court simply has no power over persons who have no contact with their territory, unless and until there is a response or an appearance and the lack of personal jurisdiction is not protested. Accordingly, if Stidham is correct that no minimum contacts existed, then the Indiana trial court did not have personal jurisdiction over him and its effort to exer-
cise that power was a nullity.
Id. at 1155. Robinaugh was not discussed in Stidham.
We further note that the UCCJL does not expressly refer to paternity actions
but arguably applies to them as proceedings relating to custody and the adjudication
of status. In contrast, however, the Uniform Interstate Family Support Act ("UIFSA"),
enacted in 1997, explicitly applies to proceedings "to determine paternity," Ind. Code §
31-18-2-1, and permits an Indiana tribunal to exercise personal jurisdiction over a nonresident
only upon satisfaction with eight enumerated conditions intended to satisfy due process requirements.
Even if we did not have the clarification provided by the UISFA regarding
in personam jurisdiction in paternity cases, the UCCJL cannot be deemed to supersede
the due process protections of the Fourteenth Amendment. Upon this issue,
Robinbaugh was incorrectly decided. We note, however, that the facts presented in
Robinaugh would likely support Indiana jurisdiction under the UISFA in the event the
mother had "resided in Indiana with the child" or if "the child
resides in Indiana as a result of the acts or directives of the
[mother]." Ind. Code § 31-18-2-1(3), (5).
In the present case, the trial court concluded:
Before an Indiana court can exercise jurisdiction of a nonresident, a plaintiff must satisfy both the long-arm statute, Ind. Trial Rule 4.4 and due process. The Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment requires that certain minimum contacts exist between a nonresident defendant and a plaintiff before personal jurisdiction is proper. Although even merely engaging in sexual intercourse leading to conception is a sufficient contact in a paternity suit to confer personal jurisdiction under T.R. 4.4 and due process, a contact even this minimal is lacking here. For this reason, then, Respondent's motion to
dismiss is granted.
Appellant's Appendix at 5-6 (citations omitted). The trial court was correct.
We affirm the judgment of the trial court.
Shepard, C.J., and Sullivan, Boehm, and Rucker, JJ., concur.