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 continual responsibilities of a legal guardianship — including possible liability for the actions of the child?
- If you are going to be overseeing the finances of the child, are you prepared to keep thorough records, present a court with routine accountings, and go to court when you need consent to manage certain financial issues?
- What type of relationship, personally, do you have with the child? Do you wish to act as the legal parent of this child throughout the guardianship?
- What type of relationship do you have with the parents of the child? Are they going to support the guardianship, or are they more likely be aggressive, antagonistic, or intrusive?
- Is the guardianship going to adversely impact you or your family because of your own children, state of health, job, age, or other aspects? Do you have the time and energy to bring up a child?
- What is the financial circumstance? If the child is going to receive income from Social Security, welfare, public assistance, their parent, or a deceased parent’s estate, is this going to be enough to provide a decent degree of support? When not, are you willing and able to spend your own funds to bring up the child?
- Do you expect problems with the child’s family members — including parents — that might suddenly reappear and challenging the guardianship? (This is uncommon, but it does happen.)
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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