Rudolph v. Rosecan

Rudolph v. Rosecan154 So.3d 381 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014), 2014 WL 6674749

This decision deals with who is considered an "interested person" in a guardianship proceeding for purposes of objecting to a guardian's annual accounting.  Here, a father was appointed plenary guardian of his adult autistic son's person and property.  A parenting plan was incorporated into the order appointing the father as guardian, and that parenting plan provided for the father and mother to have shared decision making authority and information sharing rights with regard to their son.  It expressly provided that the father had ultimate authority to make decisions about his son's person, but did not address financial decisions.

The father voluntarily provided the mother with copies of his annual guardianship accountings over the years, but eventually sought a court order declaring that the mother was not an interested person for purposes of the annual accounting.  The trial court agreed, because the mother had no financial rights or obligations with regard to the son, so she would not be affected by the outcome of the guardianship proceeding.

The mother argued that she was an interested person by virtue of the parenting plan which allowed her to be involved in major decisions regarding her son.  The Court disagreed.  Under F.S. 744.3701(1), the only people who can inspect a guardianship report are the court, the clerk, the clerk's representative, the guardian, the guardian's attorney, the ward and the ward's attorney.  While F.S. 744.367(4) allows an "interested person" to object to the report, the Court disagreed with the mother that she was an interested person in this proceeding.  It held that the concept of an "interested person" is fluid and varies with the facts of the case. A person's status as an "interested person" is dependent upon whether the person would be affected by the outcome of the particular proceedings.  Being "next of kin" does not confer "interested person" status. 

Since the parenting plan did not give the mother any rights relating to financial decisions,the Court held that she was not an "interested person" with standing to object to the annual accounting. 


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