Suleman Loses in Financial Guardian Ruling

Thursday, Jan 7, 2010  |  Updated 2:43 PM PDT
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Suleman Loses in Financial Guardian Ruling

Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photobank

A child actors advocacy group wins a round in court against Nadya Suleman. (Photo by: Paul Drinkwater/NBCU Photo Bank)

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An Orange County judge ruled Friday that an advocacy  group for child actors can move forward with its bid to get a guardian  appointed to oversee the financial interests of octomom Nadya Suleman's  children.

Superior Court Judge Gerald Johnston denied Suleman's motion to dismiss  the guardian petition submitted by former child actor Paul Petersen, president  of A Minor Consideration.

Johnston did not comment on the merits of Petersen's petition, but wrote  that California law does not require someone to be an "interested person"  or "enjoy any type of relationship with the minor or minors named in the  petition."

"As the paramount concern in guardianships is the best interests of  children, the Legislature has not restricted the class of individuals who may  petition seeking to protect those interests," Johnston's ruling states.

The judge directed the Department of Social Services to investigate and  make a recommendation on the guardianship petition. The deadline for the report  is Oct. 29.

Suleman's attorney, Jeff Czech, who had argued that Peterson lacked  legal standing in the case, could not immediately be reached for comment.

Petersen, who as a child actor was in the cast of the 1958-66 ABC series "The Donna Reed Show," said he was "grateful" for the ruling.

"Given all that we have seen and heard in the last seven months, the  appointment of an independent guardian to protect the financial interests of  the Suleman octuplets will be a welcome development," Petersen said.

Attorney Gloria Allred, who represents Petersen, said she was "very  happy that the court has upheld the law and allowed us to proceed with our case  and our efforts to protect Nadya Suleman's octuplets."

"Although it is a victory for us, it is more importantly a victory for  Nadya Suleman's octuplets," she said.

Petersen wants an independent guardian appointed because he believes  Suleman has a conflict of interest regarding her contract with Eyeworks UK  Group Ltd. in connection with a reality show to feature the octuplets and their  six older siblings.

When A Minor Consideration won the first round July 27 in Orange County  Probate Court, Czech called the decision ``ludicrous.''

"These people have no right to bring this petition," he said.

On July 27, Johnston appointed lawyer Norbert Bunt to serve as guardian  over the octuplets' financial affairs. But a state appellate court later stayed  the decision, pending today's ruling.

The appellate panel found that the guardianship violated Suleman's  constitutional rights because she wasn't given proper notice and said Petersen  failed to make the case that Suleman could not represent her children  adequately.

Peterson and Allred contend Suleman has exploited her octuplets for  financial gain. She has countered that the two are suing just to promote  themselves.

In addition to the octuplets she delivered in January, Suleman has six  other children who were also the product of in-vitro fertilization treatment.  The 34-year-old mom and her brood live in La Habra. 

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