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Ryan v. Ryan

Court of Appeals of Michigan
677 N.W.2d 899 (2004)


Facts

When Claire Ryan (plaintiff) was 16, her relationship with her parents, Timothy and Chris Ryan (defendants), began to deteriorate. The parents disapproved of Claire’s relationship with her boyfriend, Ryan McGinn. On September 10, 2001, Claire ran away from home and moved in with family friends. When Claire did not return within a few days, her parents asked the friends to prevent Claire from remaining at their home. Claire then moved to the home of her boyfriend and the boyfriend’s mother, Adele McGinn-Loomis. When she refused to return home, her parents decided to enroll her in a boarding school in Utah. Claire was sent to Utah the following day. Over the next couple days, McGinn-Loomis, who was a deputy clerk in the trial court, conferred with the court about Claire. The court also spoke with Mary Benedict, who represented herself as Claire’s attorney even though Claire lacked capacity as a minor to retain an attorney. On September 19, the court entered an ex parte order authorizing any police department with jurisdiction to return Claire to Michigan. On September 20, Benedict filed a “Complaint for Return and Divorce from Parents” on behalf of Claire. The basis of the complaint was Claire’s placement in boarding school. Benedict later filed a motion to have a guardian ad litem appointed, a petition for Claire’s emancipation, and a petition alleging abuse and neglect. The filings lacked required supporting documentation. On October 20, the court appointed a guardian ad litem. It later dismissed the “divorce” complaint but allowed an amended complaint for emancipation and third-party guardianship. Claire returned to Michigan, and the court ordered her to be placed in foster care without considering evidence of her parents’ fitness. The parents filed a motion to dismiss the matter. At the hearing on that motion, Benedict moved to dismiss Claire’s petitions without prejudice. The court granted Benedict’s motion and dismissed the matter without prejudice. The parents appealed. 

Rule of Law

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Issue

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Holding and Reasoning (Kelly, J.)

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