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Indiana Family Law Case Update: Indiana Court of Appeals reverses petition for protective order in claim of harassment

by | May 10, 2021 | Family Law

K.B. v. B.B. (May 7, 2021)

Held: Trial court erred when it dismissed a petition for an order of protection without holding an evidentiary hearing, where the petitioner had stated a minimally sufficient claim of harassment.

Facts and Procedural History

K.B. filed a petition for an order for protection against her neighbor, B.B., which recited that various incidents of alleged harassment that K.B. contended caused her to feel “terrorized, frightened, intimidated, and threatened.”

In response, the trial court dismissed K.B.’s petition sua sponte and without holding a hearing. K.B. filed a motion to correct error, which the trial court denied on the basis that, even if all of the factual assertions in K.B.’s petition were assumed to be true, the behavior alleged did not “rise to the level of harassment.” K.B. appealed.

Reviewing Indiana’s Civil Protection Order Act that governs the matter, the Court of Appeals noted that, under the statute, whether the trial court was required to hold a hearing hinged on whether K.B. stated a claim of harassment.

K.B.’s petition recited that, over a 19-month period, B.B. had become “visibly angry and aggressive” toward K.B.; that B.B. had entered K.B.’s property without permission; that B.B. had yelled sarcastic remarks at K.B.; and that B.B. had “intentionally blocked” K.B.’s access to her driveway. “We conclude that these allegations stated a claim for harassment, which entitled K.B. to a hearing.”

The trial court’s dismissal of K.B.’s petition was reversed, and remanded for the trial court to hold a hearing on it.

The Indiana Family Law Case Update is a free service provided by Michael Kohlhaas and James Reed of Cross Glazier Reed Burroughs, PC. Case summaries, with a link to the full case, are regularly provided to the service’s nearly 300 subscribers: attorneys, judges, court staff, and other professionals across Indiana, and beyond. If you wish to receive these updates via email, please send your request to [email protected].

James Reed and Michael Kohlhaas represent clients in a wide spectrum of relationship transition and wealth planning matters, including premarital agreements, estate planning, cohabitation, separation, divorce (especially involving high net worth individuals and/or complex asset issues), custody, parenting arrangements, adoption, and domestic partnerships. Cross Glazier Reed Burroughs, PC is the premiere boutique family law firm in the state of Indiana.