The late Paul Walker's mother is seeking legal guardianship of her granddaughter, claiming the teen's mother has "a drinking problem."
Cheryl Ann Walker, the deceased actor's mom, petitioned a Los Angeles court Tuesday to be appointed as guardian for 15-year-old Meadow Walker in place of Meadow's mother, reports E! News.
What does Cheryl Ann need to prove in order to get guardianship of Meadow?
Legal Rights to Guardianship
In California, becoming a child's guardian involves filing a petition with the family court, providing proof of the need for a guardian, enduring a court investigation, and attending a guardianship hearing. In determining whether to award guardianship to one adult instead of another, family courts often consider the best interests of the child involved.
In the battle for guardianship of Meadow, the court will likely have to consider:
- Meadow's wishes;
- Her mother and grandmother's mental and physical health;
- Meadow's need for a continuous, stable home environment;
- Availability and support of extended family;
- Relationships with both her mother and grandmother;
- Meadow's school and community situations; and
- Any evidence of physical, sexual, or drug and alcohol abuse.
Cheryl claims that Meadow's mother Rebecca Soteros is unable to care for her daughter because of her alleged alcoholism. TMZ reports that Soteros has had two DUIs (one in 2013), and that Meadow had moved in with Paul Walker before he died to avoid her mother's drinking problems.
Walker's Will May Play a Role in Judge's Decision
If a judge isn't convinced by evidence of Soteros' alcohol abuse, he or she may be swayed by evidence of Walker's wishes in his will. According to E! News, Meadow stands to inherit $16 million from her father's estate, and Walker's will names Cheryl Ann as the "dedicated guardian."
Most wills include a clause that designates a personal guardian for children under 18 after a parent passes, but a will alone cannot remove a child from a living parent's custody. Walker's estate plans may sway the judge in knowing that Meadow would be financially covered by staying with her grandparents, who are charged with supervising the late actor's estate until Meadow turns 18.
But ultimately, the guardianship decision will come down to what is in Meadow's best interests, not those of her mother, grandmother, or even her deceased father.
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