IN THE MATTER OF THE GUARDIANSHIP OF HAGEN TIMOTHY MELDRUM, A MINOR CHILD, AMANDA MELDRUM, Plaintiff/Appellant,
VERONICA D. MELDRUM, Defendant/Appellee.
Mandate Issued: 11/21/2017
FROM THE DISTRICT COURT OF TULSA COUNTY, OKLAHOMA HONORABLE
TERRY H. BITTING, TRIAL JUDGE AFFIRMED.
Funderburk, FUNDERBURK & ASSOCIATES, PLLC, Tulsa,
Oklahoma, for Plaintiff/Appellant
Gilbert J. Pilkington, Jr., PILKINGTON LAW FIRM PLLC, Tulsa,
Oklahoma, for Defendant/Appellee
A. Haddock, ASSISTANT TULSA COUNTY, PUBLIC DEFENDER,
Children's Advocacy Division, Tulsa, Oklahoma, for Minor
L. GOODMAN, JUDGE.
Amanda Meldrum (Grandmother) appeals a September 30, 2016,
order which granted Veronica D. Meldrum's (Step-Mother)
petition for guardianship and denied her cross-petition for
guardianship. Based on our review of the record and
applicable law, we affirm.
The minor child, HTM, was born in 2006 to Ashley Jones and
Joshua Meldrum (Father). Ashley Jones has not been a part of
the minor child's life. Father subsequently married
Step-Mother and two children were born of the marriage.
Father, Step-Mother, HTM, and the two children lived together
as a family until March of 2015, when Father and HTM left the
home after a domestic violence incident between Father and
Father and HTM moved in with Grandmother until July of 2015
when Father was arrested for the previous domestic violence
by strangulation incident with Step-Mother. Father
subsequently entered a guilty plea. In addition, Father and
Step-Mother divorced and Step-Mother is the sole custodian of
the parties' two biological children.
On August 3, 2015, Step-Mother filed an emergency petition
for guardianship of HTM, who was still living with
Grandmother. Grandmother filed a cross-petition for
guardianship on August 18, 2015. After a hearing on the
petitions on April 7, 2016, the trial court found the
biological mother was unfit due to abandonment, that Father
was unfit due to domestic violence, and that it was in the
best interest of the minor child to grant Step-Mother's
petition. An order was entered on September 30, 2016,
memorializing the trial court's findings. Grandmother
Issues of statutory construction are questions of law to be
reviewed de novo, and appellate courts exercise plenary,
independent, and non-deferential authority. Welch v.
Crow, 2009 OK 20, ¶ 10, 206 P.3d 599, 603. In cases
requiring statutory construction, the cardinal rule is to
ascertain and give effect to the intent of the Legislature.
Id. The words of a statute will be given a plain and
ordinary meaning, unless it is contrary to the purpose and
intent of the statute considered as a whole. Naylor v.
Petuskey, 1992 OK 88, ¶ 4, 834 P.2d 439, 440.
Legislative purpose and intent may be ascertained from the
language in the title to a legislative enactment.
In appointing guardians, courts are vested with sound legal
discretion and their judgments will not be overturned absent
an abuse of discretion. In the Matter of the Guardianship
of J.J.H., 2007 OK CIV APP 75, ¶ 18, 168 P.3d 243,
247 (citing Brigman v. Cheney, 1910 OK 316, 112 P.
993, syl. 1). Abuse of discretion occurs "when a court
bases its decision on an erroneous conclusion of law or where
there is no rational basis in evidence for the ruling."
In the Matter of the Guardianship of ...