Please E-mail suggested additions, comments and/or corrections to Kent@MoreLaw.Com.

Help support the publication of case reports on MoreLaw

Date: 05-25-2021

Case Style:

Carmen Guzman v. Adrieanna Guzman

Case Number: 2021 OK 26

Judge: Kane

Court: Oklahoma Supreme Court on appeal from the District Court of Canadian County

Plaintiff's Attorney:

Best El Reno Family Law Lawyer Directory

Defendant's Attorney:

Best El Reno Family Law Lawyer Directory

Description: El Reno, Oklahoma family law lawyers represented the parties seeking a determination of paternity.

¶1 At issue on certiorari is whether the Court of Civil Appeals properly applied our laws on parental rights in a dispute between a married couple regarding custody and visitation with a minor child who was adopted by only one of the parties prior to marriage. We hold that it did not. The child was adopted by Respondent/Appellee Adrieanna Guzman (Adrieanna) prior to the marriage. Petitioner/Appellant Carmen Guzman (Carmen) never adopted the child. As a step-parent, Carmen has no standing to petition the court for paternity of the child. Thus, we vacate the Court of Civil Appeals's opinion and affirm the trial court's order granting Adrieanna's motion to dismiss.


¶2 The parties began their relationship in 2012. In 2015, one of Adrieanna's family members approached her about being a foster parent for their child who was to be placed in state custody upon birth. Adrieanna took physical custody of the child upon the child's release from the hospital in April 2015 and formally adopted the child on December 23, 2015.

¶3 On February 18, 2017, the parties married. It is undisputed that Carmen did not adopt the child. The parties separated in September 2018. On January 4, 2019, Carmen filed a petition for paternity seeking to establish her parental status and for a determination on custody and support. Adrieanna filed a petition for dissolution of marriage on January 11, 2019, wherein she alleged there were no children from the marriage.1

¶4 On January 28, 2019, Adrieanna filed a special entry of appearance and motion to dismiss in Carmen's paternity action asserting Carmen lacked standing and the trial court lacked subject matter jurisdiction to grant Carmen any custodial or visitation rights to the child who she never adopted. After a hearing on February 14, 2019, the trial court granted Adrieanna's motion to dismiss for lack of standing by journal entry filed on April 2, 2019. Carmen filed her accelerated appeal following the trial court's dismissal. The case was assigned to the Court of Civil Appeals on June 5, 2019. The Court of Civil Appeals applied this Court's recent decision in Schnedler v. Lee, 2019 OK 52, 445 P.3d 238, to the facts of this case and reversed the trial court's ruling. Adrieanna's petition for writ of certiorari immediately followed.

¶5 The sole remedy available from an erroneous decision of the Court of Civil Appeals is to petition the Supreme Court for a writ of certiorari.2 See McMinn v. Okla. City, 1997 OK 154, ¶ 25, 952 P.2d 517, 523; Mehdipour v. Holland, 2000 OK 22, ¶ 9, 18 P.3d 339. The Supreme Court's power of certiorari review extends to every form of the Court of Civil Appeals' appellate cognizance. See May-Li Barki, M.D., Inc. v. Liberty Bank & Trust Co., 1999 OK 87, n. 22, 20 P.3d 135. We granted certiorari in this case to clarify our recent decision in Schnedler, specifically concerning its limited holding and limited application in paternity actions.

* * *

Outcome: ¶12 Adrieanna solely adopted the child and is clothed by the law with parental rights by virtue of the adoption. After the adoption, the parties chose to marry. Carmen did not adopt the child. We hold Carmen, as a step-parent, has no standing or statutory rights to custody of the adopted child of her spouse. We vacate the opinion of the Court of Civil Appeals and affirm the trial court's order dismissing the case.


Plaintiff's Experts:

Defendant's Experts:


Find a Lawyer


Find a Case