Marriage Concerns Insufficient To Warrant Guardianship
A family’s concerns about a 29-year-old man with Down syndrome wanting to marry are not sufficient reason to place him under guardianship, a judge has determined.
The mother and brother of a man known as D.D. in court papers sought to become his legal guardians in a Brooklyn, N.Y. court. Central to the petition, however, was D.D.’s desire to marry his girlfriend, Janice. He told the court that he is saving for an engagement ring.
D.D.’s mother adamantly opposes such a union, testifying that “Janice is too pushy.” The mother, referred to as Ms. D. in court documents, said that she worried a marriage would lead to a child with Down syndrome who the couple would be unable to care for.
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While in court, D.D. stated that he wanted a guardian, but when interviewed away from his family members, he indicated otherwise.
In her decision, Surrogate’s Court Judge Margarita López Torres said she found no evidence that D.D. could not make medical or financial decisions and found that his desire to marry alone is no reason to impose guardianship.
“D.D. desires to choose whom he loves, to marry, to establish a home, and, perhaps, to bring up children some day; these are choices central to his personal dignity and autonomy and his pursuit of happiness, and they are his to make,” López Torres wrote in her decision.
“There is no doubt that the petitioners deeply love and are devoted to D.D. and are motivated by what they believe is in his best interest,” López Torres continued. “However, the standard here is not whether the petitioners can make better decisions than D.D., it is whether or not D.D. has the capacity to make decisions for himself with the support that he abundantly has.”