In re Guardianship of Madelyn B.Annotate this Case
Appellant Susan B. and appellee Melissa D. became romantically involved in 1997 and "considered [them]selves to be as fully committed to one another as any married couple." Melissa took Susan's last name as her own (at that time, same-sex marriage became legal until 2010). Melissa became pregnant by sperm donor in 2002, and gave birth to Madelyn. When Madelyn was six years old, Susan and Melissa's relationship ended. Melissa and Madelyn moved in with Eugene D., who Melissa later married. Susan and Melissa agreed upon a schedule for regular visitation. Susan continued to be actively involved in Madelyn's life. Susan paid weekly child support and, in addition, helped with the cost of Madelyn's extracurricular activities. She also provided Madelyn with food, clothing, and gifts. In February 2013, Melissa stopped cashing Susan's child support checks. Susan averred that she nevertheless continued to send them. When Susan attempted to pick up Madelyn for her weekly visitation, she was informed that Madelyn no longer wanted a relationship with her. Melissa did not return Susan's subsequent phone calls, and Susan was unable to contact Madelyn directly through online social media because Madelyn's settings had been changed. Melissa filed a motion to terminate Susan's guardianship over Madelyn, asserting that the guardianship was "no longer necessary because Madelyn no longer wishe[ed] to have a relationship with Susan." Represented by counsel, Susan moved for an immediate hearing. Melissa objected, noting, "We have begun the process of my husband, Madelyn[']s stepfather, adopting her." The court denied the motion and Susan's subsequent motion to reconsider. On appeal, Susan argued, in part, that the family division erred by: (1) terminating the guardianship without a hearing or opportunity to conduct discovery; (2) ruling that the legal standard for termination of a guardianship had been satisfied; (3) dismissing her parenting petition; and (4) denying her motion to intervene in the adoption case. Melissa counters that the guardianship was created to allow Susan to provide health insurance for Madelyn and to further "the daily practicalities of child-rearing." She argued that since "Madelyn's sustenance is being adequately met by her new family," the guardianship was no longer necessary. The Supreme Court reversed the trial court's termination of Susan's guardianship over Madelyn, and reversed the dismissal of Susan's parenting petition. The Court vacated the trial court's motion to intervene in the adoption proceedings, and stayed the adoption proceedings until the matter of guardianship was resolved. The Court then remanded the case for further proceedings.