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Family Law—Appointment of Guardian for Minor with no Surviving Parents

Posted by Ted A. Schmidt | Feb 12, 2021 | 0 Comments

Family Law—Appointment of Guardian for Minor with no Surviving Parents

In re M.G., No. 1 CA-CV 20-0467 (App. Div. I, February 9, 2021) (J.Howe) https://www.azcourts.gov/Portals/0/OpinionFiles/Div1/2021/CV%2020-0467%20In%20re%20M.G.%20and%20R.G.pdf

WHEN CHILD'S ONLY LIVING PARENT DIES PARENTAL RIGHTS ARE TERMINATED ALLOWING FOR APPOINTMENT OF GUARDIAN

M.G and R.G. were adopted by their grandmother. Grandma died in 2020 leaving M.G. 17 and R.G. 15 without a living parent to care for them. Their uncle then petitioned for guardianship A.R.S. § 14–5207(A).  The trial court denied the request on that basis the statute requires that a child's parent be notified of the petition and there was no living parent to notify and therefore a dependency petition must be filed under A.R.S. § 8–841(A) instead.  The Arizona Court of Appeals reversed and remanded.

The court of appeals held that “when a child's only living parent dies, parental rights are terminated for purposes of  A.R.S. § 14–5204, which provides a basis for an assertion of authority under that statute to appoint a guardian for the children.” No dependency action is necessary since a family member came forward seeking guardianship. In such a case the court looks to A.R.S. § 14–5207(B) to determine whether the family member meets the necessary requirements to serve as guardian, including whether appointing that person as a guardian is in the children's best interests.

About the Author

Ted A. Schmidt

Ted's early career as a trial attorney began on the other side of the fence, in the offices of a major insurance defense firm. It was there that Ted acquired the experience, the skills and the special insight into defense strategy that have served him so well in the field of personal injury law. Notable among his successful verdicts was the landmark Sparks vs. Republic National Life Insurance Company case, a $4.5 million award to Ted's client. To this day, it is the defining case for insurance bad faith, and yet it is only one of several other multi-million dollar jury judgments won by Ted during his career. He is certified by the State Bar of Arizona as a specialist in "wrongful death and bodily injury litigation".

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