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E.K. v. T.A.

Court of Appeals of Kentucky

February 22, 2019

E.K. AND N.K. APPELLANTS
v.
T.A. AND A.C.K., A MINOR CHILD APPELLEES

          APPEAL FROM GRANT CIRCUIT COURT HONORABLE R. LESLIE KNIGHT, JUDGE ACTION NO. 16-AD-00003

          BRIEF FOR APPELLANT: Steven N. Howe Dry Ridge, Kentucky Stephen L. Bates Dry Ridge, Kentucky.

          BRIEF FOR APPELLEE: Brandie M. Ingalls Covington, Kentucky.

          BEFORE: GOODWINE, K. THOMPSON, AND L. THOMPSON, JUDGES.

          OPINION

          GOODWINE, JUDGE.

         Appellants, E.K. and N.K. (collectively "Step-mother"), appeal from a Grant Circuit Court order (1) granting a motion to dismiss in favor of Appellee, T.A. ("Mother"); and (2) denying her motion to alter, amend, or vacate. After a careful review, we reverse and remand for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.

         BACKGROUND

         On April 19, 2016, N.K. ("Father") filed a petition for involuntary termination of parental rights under KRS[1] 625.050 against Mother. Later that year, the trial court entered an agreed order, which allowed an amended petition seeking adoption under KRS 199.502 and the addition of Step-mother, as the minor child's step-parent. The amended petition set forth two counts: Count I was a petition for adoption under KRS 199.502, and Count II was a request for involuntary termination of parental rights under KRS 625.050.[2]

         On February 13, 2017, Mother filed a motion to dismiss the amended petition, based on CR[3] 12.02(g)[4] and CR 19.01.[5] Mother argued the trial court should dismiss the amended petition because Step-mother failed to join, and serve, the Cabinet as an indispensable party. The trial court took the motion under submission and set a briefing schedule. In her response, Step-mother argued that the Cabinet was not an indispensable party, pertaining to Count I, and that the GAL report satisfied the report requirement of KRS 199.510.

         In its April 20, 2017 order, the trial court dismissed the amended petition, finding the Cabinet was an indispensable party. Step-mother promptly filed a motion to alter, amend, or vacate, arguing that Count I of the amended petition should survive because it was filed under KRS 199.502, rather than KRS 625.050, which did not require her to name the Cabinet as a party. Mother responded that the trial court should still dismiss the amended petition because it failed to meet statutory requirements of KRS 199.510.

         On August 22, 2017, the trial court entered an order denying Stepmother's motion to alter, amend, or vacate, citing KRS 199.510 and finding that "[b]ecause the Amended Petition includes both an Adoption and Involuntary Termination of Parental Rights, strict compliance with KRS 199 and/or KRS 625 is required; therefore, the Motion to Alter, Amend, or Vacate is DENIED." August 22, 2017 order, p. 2 (emphasis in original). This appeal followed.

         STANDARD OF REVIEW

         There are no disputed facts before us, rather, whether the trial court correctly applied the law to said facts. Thus, since this is a question of law, our review is de novo. Gran ...


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