Sunday, December 8, 2013

In re Guardianship of Kowalski case brief

In re Guardianship of Kowalski case brief summary
478 N.W.2d 790 (1991)

Appellant lesbian partner challenged the judgment of the District Court of St. Louis County (Minnesota), which denied the lesbian partner's petition for guardianship of the ward.

The ward was 35 years old and suffered severe brain injuries in an automobile accident. At the time of the accident, the ward was sharing a home with her lesbian partner. They had exchanged rings, named each other as insurance beneficiaries, and had been living together as a couple for four years. The ward's father was awarded guardianship and he relocated the ward and terminated the lesbian partner's visitation rights. The father later wished to be removed as the ward's guardian and the lesbian partner filed the instant petition for appointment as successor guardian of the ward's person and estate. The district court denied the petition and a friend of the family was named as guardian.


  • The court held that it would not interfere with the appointment of a guardian except in the case of clear abuse of discretion. 
  • The court evaluated the ward's ability to make rational choices. 
  • That the ward wished to return home with the lesbian partner was a significant factor in the guardianship proceeding. 
  • The lesbian partner's suitability for guardianship was overwhelmingly clear from the testimony of the ward's doctors and caretakers.
The court reversed and remanded for appointment of the lesbian partner as guardian of the ward. The trial court abused its discretion in denying the lesbian partner's petition.

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