Questions concerning getting and maintaining the legal guardianship of a child.
Can I be named guardian when the child’s parents raise objections?
Typically, guardianships are not granted unless:
- the parents have deserted the child
- the parents voluntarily agree or,
- a judge determines that it would be harmful to the child for the parents to have custody.
There are some cases in which you can get a guardianship over the parents’ oppositions, but you would typically have to establish that the parents were unfit. You are going to need a lawyer’s assistance for this.
Other relatives – brothers and sisters, grandparents, aunts, and uncles of the child — are also entitled to know that you are seeking a guardianship and have their right to object. You should probably speak with a lawyer when any of the child’s relatives tells the court that they oppose to you becoming the guardian.
Who is responsible for financially supporting a child under guardianships?
Unless a court ceases the biological parents’ rights (unusual in a lot of guardianship cases), the parents are obligated for supporting their child. Nevertheless, financial support usually becomes the guardian’s responsibility. The guardian may decide to seek financial benefits on behalf of the child, like Social Security and public assistance.
Any funds the guardian gets for the child are required to be used for the benefit of the child. Subject to the amount of funding involved, the guardian might be required to file routine reports with a court demonstrating how much money was received for the child and how it was used.
Are a guardian’s responsibilities demanding?
A simple but important question to ask yourself prior to you taking any steps to establish a guardianship is if you’re truly prepared for the task. For finding out, ask yourself the following questions:
- Do you want the ongoing responsibilities of legal guardianship, potentially being liable for the child’s actions? Are you prepared to maintain detailed records, provide regular financial accountings to the court, and seek court approval for specific financial matters?
- What is your personal relationship with the child? Do you wish to assume full legal parent responsibilities throughout the guardianship?
- How do you interact with the child’s parents? Will they support the guardianship, or are they likely to be confrontational or intrusive?
- Will the guardianship adversely affect you or your family due to your own children, health, job, age, or other factors? Do you have the time and energy to care for a child?
- Consider the financial aspect. Will the child’s income from various sources be sufficient to provide decent support, or are you willing and able to use your own funds?
- Do you anticipate potential challenges from the child’s family members, including parents, which might threaten the guardianship, though this is uncommon?
It’s wise to consider your options carefully prior to initiating guardianship proceedings. Following you honestly answering the above questions, you might need to rethink your planning.
Establishing a guardianship?
For putting a guardianship in place, you are going to begin by filing guardianship paperwork in court. A court assessor is going to likely interview you, the child, and the child’s parents when they are alive and accessible. The assessor is then going to make a recommendation to the judge. The judge is going to review the case and decide whether to name you, typically after a hearing. The court is required to find that the naming is in the child’s best interests.
If you wish to name a guardian for your own children, should you not be around to take care of them, use a will to name the individual you want to raise them.
Nolo. (2013, February 15). Setting up a guardianship for a child FAQ. www.nolo.com. Retrieved September 22, 2022, from https://www.nolo.com/legal-encyclopedia/setting-up-guardianship-child-faq.html
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