‘Octomom’ Wins Guardianship Appeal | Courthouse News Service
Saturday, December 2, 2023
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‘Octomom’ Wins Guardianship Appeal

(CN) - "Octomom" Nadya Suleman successfully appealed a court order appointing an independent guardian over her 14 children's finances.

After Suleman gave birth to octuplets in January 2009, Paul Petersen, president of A Minor Consideration, a nonprofit that rallies for young performers to keep money from their parents or other parties with conflicts of interest, filed a petition for the court to appoint a guardian for the children. He also wanted a county social worker to investigate the family's finances.

The 4th District Court of Appeal in Santa Ana, Calif., overturned a lower court's decision to grant the petition.

"This is an unprecedented, meritless effort by a stranger to a family to seek appointment of a guardian of the estates of the minor children," Justice Richard Fybel wrote.

He said Petersen failed to present any solid facts or actual evidence that Suleman was mismanaging the children's finances.

Petersen had claimed that a guardian would ensure that the children were not exploited and would protect "possible lucrative endorsement[s] that may arise as a result of their unique status."

Petersen relied on media reports about Suleman and her family to make his case, the ruling states. He has never met or interacted with them.

"The information provided can be summed up as follows: Suleman and her children have appeared on TV and the Internet, presumably in exchange for money," Fybel wrote.

California law presumes that a parent is competent to manage his or her children's finances, the ruling states. Though a non-relative can petition for guardianship, the individual has to show facts warranting court intervention, the court said.

Petersen alleged that Suleman had entered into agreements with production companies, including one with Eyeworks for a documentary on the children's lives, but admitted that he didn't know if Suleman had put the children's earnings into blocked accounts.

Suleman called the petition "frivolous" and said she was disappointed that the court allowed "random third parties" to file guardianship petitions.

Fybel called Petersen's petition "manifestly inadequate" and directed the probate court to grant Suleman's motion to dismiss and vacate the order calling for an investigation of the family's finances.

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