Florida residents may know that, in some states, the law allows children the autonomous right to leave their parents at the age of 17. This legal issue has set up a heated case in Michigan for parents of a girl who left their home when she turned 17. Thereafter, a guardian and conservator for the girl were appointed by the local probate court. The girl has since turned 18, and an appeal of her guardianship was recently dismissed because the guardianship terminated when the girl turned 18. However, the conservatorship has not as yet been dismissed and is pending a decision by a court of appeals.
The case began when the girl left home at midnight on the day she turned 17. Upon that basis, a county probate judge granted her a conservator and a guardian. The parents appealed both appointments. The attorney for the girl filed a motion requesting the courts to dismiss the parent's appeal with prejudice, on the basis that her guardianship had been terminated, thus rendering the appeal "moot." With his motion, he filed documentation establishing that the judge had terminated the guardianship, as well as an order by the judge that a total of $5,140 was to be paid by the parents to the guardian.
The parents' attorney responded by stating that the judge who dismissed the appeal had previously indicated that he was waiting for a ruling from a higher court with jurisdiction over the appeal of the conservatorship order. He also stated that the funds ordered have almost been paid in full by the parents and that, should the appeal go through, they might recoup those funds. The appeals court has heard arguments on both sides, and a decision is pending regarding the conservatorship appointment.
This case goes to show just how complicated guardianship issues can be. Establishing guardianship and even terminating guardianship matters can be complex, even for those of sound mind and body and of legal age. Florida residents who are concerned about guardianship matters of teenage children or others often benefit from consultation with a probate and estate administration attorney. Each situation is different, and an attorney can help review all of the facts and circumstances, offering objective advice on the appropriate manner in which to proceed and achieve the results desired.
Source: Midland Daily News, "Appeal of guardianship in local court dismissed," Kelly Dame, Nov. 17, 2011