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.