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In re Guardianship of Atkins

Court of Appeals of Indiana
868 N.E.2d 878 (Ind. App. 2007)


Facts

Patrick Atkins suffered a ruptured aneurysm and acute subarachnoid hemorrhage, as well as a stroke. Patrick’s life partner of 25 years, Brett Conrad (plaintiff), went to visit Patrick in the hospital, as did Patrick’s family. However, Patrick’s mother, Jeanne, vehemently disapproved of the same-sex relationship, due to her religious beliefs, and did her best to prevent Brett from visiting or having any contact with Patrick. In fact, Jeanne told Brett that if Patrick chose to continue living with Brett, she would prefer that Patrick not recover at all. Patrick was later moved to nursing facilities and, despite the wishes of Patrick’s family, often had contact with Brett. Brett filed a petition for guardianship of Patrick’s person and property. Jeanne and her husband, Thomas, filed an answer, a motion to intervene, and a cross-petition to be appointed as co-guardians of Patrick. Subsequently, Brett withdrew his request for guardianship of Patrick’s property. A guardian ad litem appointed by the court to represent Patrick’s interests concluded that it was beneficial to Patrick’s recovery process for Brett to continue to have contact with Patrick. The guardian ad litem requested that the trial court issue an order that both Brett and the Atkinses have regular access to Patrick, regardless of who was appointed as his guardian. The Atkinses refused to allow Brett to visit their son and cut all ties to Brett. Brett then filed a petition for an order requiring the Atkinses to allow Brett to visit and have contact with Patrick. The trial court declined to adopt the recommendations of the guardian ad litem, refused Brett’s petition, and appointed the Atkinses as co-guardians of Patrick’s person and estate. Brett appealed.

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Dissent (Darden, J.)

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