Tuesday, March 03, 2009

Summary 2009 WY 22

Summary of Decision issued February 20, 2009

Summaries are prepared by Law Librarians and are not official statements of the Wyoming Supreme Court.

Case Name: In re: SRB-M, a minor, DJM v. DM and JM

Citation: 2009 WY 22

Docket Number: S-08-0129

Appeal from the District Court of Laramie County, the Honorable Peter G. Arnold, Judge.

Representing Appellant SRB-M: John M. Burman, Faculty Supervisor and Kristen M. Barton, Student Intern, UW Legal Services Program.

Representing Appellees DM and JM: No appearance.

Facts/Discussion: Paternal great-grandmother (DM) was the court appointed legal guardian of minor child (SRB-M). DJM, the child’s mother (Mother) moved to terminate the guardianship and DM resisted the motion. The district court, without finding Mother unfit, entered an order continuing the guardianship. Mother appealed claiming that in order to deny her legal custody of her child and continue the guardianship, the district court had to find and DM had the burden of proving that she was an unfit parent.
In the context of appointing a guardian, the Court has interpreted the statutes as requiring a finding that a parent is unfit in order to permit placing a child with a non-parent over the parent’s objection. The Court has not previously addressed the issue in the context of terminating an established guardianship. Given that both § 3-2-104(a) and § 3-3-1101(a)(v) require a showing of necessity and the Court’s holding in MEO that guardianship is not necessary if the parent is deemed fit, the Court concluded that a finding of parental unfitness was required in order to continue an established guardianship over a parent’s objection.

Conclusion: To further the policy underlying the guardianship statutes and in recognition of a parent’s fundamental right to custody to his or her child, the Court concluded that in order to continue the guardianship the district court was required to find Mother unfit. The district court did not find that Mother was unfit. Therefore, the district court’s determination that the guardianship should continue, based solely upon a best interest analysis was clearly erroneous.

Reversed and remanded.

J. Kite delivered the decision.

Link: http://tinyurl.com/dc8zvq .

[SPECIAL NOTE: This opinion uses the "Universal Citation." It was given an "official" citation when it was issued. You should use this citation whenever you cite the opinion, with a P.3d parallel citation. Please note when you look at the opinion that all of the paragraphs are numbered. When you pinpoint cite to a quote, you should cite to this paragraph number rather than to any page number. If you need assistance in putting together a citation using the Universal Citation form, please contact the Wyoming State Law Library.]

No comments:

Check out our tags in a cloud (from Wordle)!