Discover how to manage common difficulties when naming a guardian.
Your Initial Choice Is Older Than You
Solution: Don’t worry about what might happen in ten years; just decide on someone now and reassess in five years.
Concentrate on who could take care of your children in the next four to six years, with knowledge that you can modify their guardian choices as your children, and their appointed guardians, get older.
Your Family is Not Going Like Your Choices
Solution: Explain your wishes through a letter.
Your primary loyalty is to your children, and you need to always make the choices that you consider will best serve them. You need to also know that a court dispute to your choice of guardian is improbable — and improbable to succeed. A relative that wanted to revoke your choice of guardian is going to have to convince a judge that there was very good reasoning — maybe, a child abuse conviction — to place your choice to the side.
Still, to prevent challenges as best you can, submit a written explanation of your decisions. It can calm tensions down, and when necessary (again, this is improbable), it might be used in court.
You’re Concerned That Your Children Are Not Going to Like Your Choices
Solution: Discuss it with them.
If you believe your children are not going to like your designations for guardians, you may want to go over it with them, particularly if they’re presently in their teens. Children fourteen or older (twelve in some states) might petition the court for different guardians than the ones designated by their parents. The judge is going to take their wants into account along with other aspects.
Your Initial Choice Is Not Good with Money
Solution: Designate someone else to manage the finances.
If the individual you want to bring up your children is not good with money, that is easily remedied. Just designate someone else for managing your children’s finances, and leave the guardian with only the duty of making sure your child grows up cared for well and as happy as can be.
You Do Not Like Your Initial Choice’s Spouse
Solution: Designate the individual, not the couple.
What happens if only one individual in a couple is your choice for guardian? Just designate the individual you want — not both — as guardian. That way should the couple get divorced, your children could stay with the individual you feel closest to.
Your Initial Choice Lives Far Away
Solution: Designate an interim guardian as well as a permanent one.
There’s no requirement that a guardian reside where you reside, but having an out-of-state guardian makes things more complex. A non-resident might have to post a bond (an insurance policy) as insurance that they are going to faithfully perform their responsibilities as a guardian. Additionally, an out-of-state guardian would have to get the guardianship proceedings moved to their state. Meaning more inconvenience (and additional lawyers’ costs).
When you wish to designate a far away individual as a guardian, also name someone local that can serve as an interim guardian. This individual could care for your children until your permanent guardians could get to them.
You Have Children from a Prior Marriage
Solution: Concentrate on the needs of each individual child. You might end up designating different guardians for different children.
Blended families are not uncommon nowadays days, making guardianship decisions even more complex. Many parents designate different guardians for the children from different marriages. Others make plans that keeps all the children together. Don’t forget that guardianship does not come into play whatsoever if a child has a living parent, and that’s more likely if their parents aren’t living or traveling with each other.
You Do not Want Your Ex Getting Custody
Solution: Designate a guardian and declare in your will why your ex should not be getting custody.
When you are divorced, you might be disturbed with the fact that if you die first, your ex would get custody of your children. That’s the actuality, though, unless your ex is obviously unfit.
When you obviously don’t want your ex getting custody of your children, declare why in your will or in a letter. Include court records, reports by police, or any other showing your ex’s unsuitability being a custodial parent. Present that letter to your initial decision for a guardian, to be used to demonstrate your wishes in case of court proceedings.
Liza Hanks, A. (2012, February 17). Naming a guardian for your child: Problems and solutions. www.nolo.com. Retrieved September 6, 2022, from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/naming-guardian-child-problems-solutions-29825.html
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