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Guardianship of Grenier

Supreme Court of Maine

May 8, 2018

GUARDIANSHIP OF ELLA M. GRENIER

          Argued: February 15, 2018

          Wayne Doane, Esq. (orally), Exeter, for appellant Nicole Grenier

          Kenneth W. Fredette, Esq. (orally), Newport, for Tammy Hopkins & Marlyn Hopkins

          Panel: SAUFLEY, C.J., and ALEXANDER, MEAD, GORMAN, JABAR, HJELM, and HUMPHREY, JJ.

          JABAR, JUDGE.

         [¶1] Nicole Grenier, the mother of Ella M. Grenier, appeals from a judgment entered by the Penobscot County Probate Court [R. Bradford, J.) granting the petition of Ella's maternal grandmother, Tammy Hopkins, for temporary guardianship pursuant to 18-AM.R.S. §§ 5-204(c), 5-207(c) (2017). Nicole contends that the evidence does not support the court's finding of a temporarily intolerable living situation for Ella. We agree and vacate the judgment.

         I. BACKGROUND

         A. Procedural History

         [¶2] In April 2016, Tammy Hopkins and her husband, Marlyn Hopkins, filed a petition for guardianship of Tammy's maternal granddaughter, Ella. In October 2016, by agreement between Nicole, Tammy, and Marlyn, the court entered an interim order granting temporary placement of Ella with Tammy and Marlyn. The court then entered another interim, agreed-upon order in February 2017, maintaining that arrangement.

         [¶3] On July 11, 2017, at the hearing on the petition for guardianship, the court observed at the outset that Marlyn had not appeared for the proceedings.[1]The court then heard testimony from Tammy; Nicole; and Ella's guardian ad litem, Earl Brown, Esq. After the hearing, the court issued the judgment that is the subject of this appeal. Without making any findings of fact, the court granted Tammy's petition and concluded that she had proved, by clear and convincing evidence, that a temporarily intolerable living situation for Ella existed as to Nicole, and that Tammy would provide a living situation that was in Ella's best interest.

         B. Motion for Findings

         [¶4] Four days after the judgment was entered, Nicole filed a motion for findings of fact and conclusions of law pursuant to M.R. Civ. P. 52(a). See M.R. Prob. P. 52 (providing that M.R. Civ. P. 52 applies in probate proceedings). The court then issued findings of fact and conclusions of law that included, in relevant part, the following:

4. Nicole has lived with her mother and step-father at various times during the course of this litigation but at the time of the hearing was living on her own with her children, outside her mother and step-father's home.
6. Approximately two months prior to the hearing in this case on July 11, 2017, petitioner Tammy Hopkins requested that Nicole and both her children leave her home because of conflict between Nicole and petitioner Marlyn Hopkins. That conflict involved physical confrontation between Nicole and Marlyn Hopkins, in front of both children, and that conflict was ...

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