COA confirms guardianship of teenager to grandparents

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A couple have been granted guardianship of their teenage granddaughter after the Indiana Court of Appeals raised concerns about whether the child would be safe in her mother’s care.

Shawn Wright and his child, AER, lived for most of the child’s early life in a Whiting residence across from where the child’s father, Omar Ruiz, lived with his parents, Gilberto Ruiz, Sr. and Teresa Ruiz.

After Omar died in July 2020, Wright believed her parents entered her home without her permission. The prosecution created such a conflict between them that the grandparents contacted law enforcement.

Wright was also charged with disorderly conduct in two cases, one being dismissed and the other pending based on successful completion of her pretrial diversion program.

A Department of Children’s Services investigation was conducted against Wright, but was ultimately closed when the grandparents were appointed as AER’s temporary guardians.

After Wright’s second arrest for disorderly conduct, police gave him the choice of going to jail or voluntarily admitting himself to the hospital.

Wright voluntarily admitted herself to St. Catherine’s Hospital for mental health issues, where she was diagnosed with Bipolar 1. She stayed for a week, and during that time sent AER to live with her half-brother. adult Jordan Tzavaras and his father in Porter County. .

Meanwhile, the grandparents filed an emergency petition in Lake County for temporary and/or permanent guardianship of AER, who was then 14 years old. When the grandparents moved to dismiss an order granting Tzavarases’ motion for guardianship over the EAR, Porter Superior Court granted the grandparents’ motion and dismissed Tzavarases’ motion for guardianship without prejudice.

In September 2020, the Lake Circuit Court denied Wright’s motion to dismiss, denied Tzavarases’ second motion for guardianship, and granted the grandparents’ motion for temporary guardianship over the EAR.

In July 2021, the Magistrate’s Court appointed the grandparents as official guardians of the ARE. She concluded that at the time she granted emergency temporary guardianship, the child was in a dangerous situation, which had a significant negative impact on her care and well-being.

He also noted that Wright’s own witness, the child’s half-brother, feared the child’s physical safety was at risk when AER was with his mother and Wright had not yet started psychotherapy. recommended after four months.

The Indiana Court of Appeals upheld, finding that the trial court did not abuse its discretion in denying Wright’s motion to transfer or appointing the grandparents as AER’s guardian.

He also found, among other things, that the trial court did not clearly err in concluding that the presence of the AER in Porter County for two weeks prior to the filing of the petitions for guardianship did not not change the child’s residence from Lake County to Porter County.

The COA was also unconvinced of the guardian issue, noting that Wright was described as “psychiatrically fragile” and that she had yet to see a psychiatrist, engage in short-term psychotherapy and begin therapy with “a specific and targeted treatment”.

However, the appeals court refused to award attorney fees to the grandparents. She concluded that, taken as a whole, Wright’s violations “do not indicate a flagrant disregard for the form and content requirements of the Appeal Rules or that his factum was drafted in a manner calculated to require maximum time on the part of the opposing party and this Court.”

The case is In the matter of guardianship of AER (minor child) Shawn Wright v. Gilberto Ruiz, Sr., and Teresa Ruiz, 21A-GU-1682.

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