If you are a guardian of a child or are planning to get guardianship, it is then your responsibility to maintain and take good care for the child. Moreover, you also get the right to make important choices regarding the child’s health requirements, religious and secular education, and just altogether basic well-being.
Parents who are married possess joint guardianship of their child and have equal rights when it comes to the little one. However, in case a child is born outside of marriage, then the situation is a little different. In such circumstances, only the mother receives an immediate right to guardianship. Despite the fact that the father’s name is written on the birth certificate and other such documents, he does not have the right to guardianship.
For those who are curious and interested about finding out how to get guardianship of a child, there are many concerns that come along with such a major process. Firstly, you must know about the law and a few basic things about the legal process. It is also important to know and understand the factors that the court might consider. You must have a clear understanding of the entire process so that you are well aware of everything before you head to the courthouse.
Give this article a thorough read to find out answers to any questions that you may have about getting guardianship of a child. So, what are you waiting for? Let us jump right in!
Table of Contents
What is permanent guardianship?
Permanent guardianship deals with a type of relationship between a child and an adult, or a caregiver. The adult guardian is by and large answerable for the child’s prosperity. This consists of their human services, lodging, security, and training. The guardian is also liable for settling on significant life choices for the benefit of their ward. This particular kind of guardianship is commonly allowed by a court when they accept that it is in the minor’s eventual benefit to live with his/her guardian, rather than the parents.
Typically, the court likes to keep the children under the guardianship of the parents, which is why it is usually just accepted on a temporary, introductory ground. This implies that it is improbable for perpetual guardianship to be conceded as an initial step. Significantly, guardianship can get perpetual after a set measure of time, keeping the benefit and safety of the child as a foremost priority. Nonetheless, it is not necessary for parental rights to be ended all together in order to achieve a continual guardianship.
Being a child’s guardian is not an easy task. It comes with financial, emotional, and even mental responsibilities that are attached to the child’s well being. You need to make sure that you are comfortable enough to provide all of these things. As far as financial support is concerned, it is to be received only from the child’s parents as long as their parental rights have not been canceled. It is important to keep in mind that permanent guardianship cannot be annulled unless one of the requirements mentioned below are met:
- the child turns eighteen years old;
- the child gets adopted, decides to join the army, gets wedded or in any other circumstance, is declared to be an adult by the judiciary;
- the child passes away before turning eighteen years of age; and/or
- the judicial system nullifies the guardianship.
How do I become a child’s guardian?
Guardianship is when someone other than the parents takes responsibility for a minor child. For this, the parents can assign you as the caretaker of their child in their will. Moreover, they can even record someone’s name in the parental responsibility register, which will hand over the child’s responsibility to that person after the death of the parents. If this is not the case, then the court can directly select you to be the guardian.
How to get legal guardianship of a child?
You can set up guardianship of a child by submitting some documents in the court. The first step is to record an appeal expressing your enthusiasm for acquiring guardianship alongside a fee for filing the documents. You’ll likewise need to record a letter of agreement from the child’s parents.
After you have submitted your petition, the court will arrange for an interview with you and most probably the child, the parents (depending upon their availability), and any other person (relatives or friends) who may have an interest in the case. Sometimes, the court orders for a home inspection to be carried out by authorities. Moreover, they also conduct a background check to see whether or not the would-be guardian has any criminal record.
As soon as the petition for guardianship is given the green light by the judiciary, they pass an order for you to set up guardianship. Keep your eyes open for any new updates or instructions on the local government’s website as that is where they are mostly showcased. Often at times these websites have easy to access, downloadable forms that you can fill out, and then file with the court.
How do I sign over guardianship of my child?
If in any case if you are unable to take care of your child or have to travel abroad without them, you may need to think about having the court appoint a guardian. A guardian appointed through the court has to fulfill all responsibilities towards the child as a parent would. Moreover, he/she will also have the right to make all decisions regarding how the child lives, including educational, medical, and/or religious decisions.
Signing over guardianship of your child to someone else requires a lot of trust. You are literally going to hand over your child to someone else, therefore, you need to make sure that the person is extremely good with children and is also trustworthy. After all, you do not want anything bad to happen to your child. There are some steps that you can follow to ensure that you make the right decision for your child’s safety and well being. These steps are given below:
- Select a guardian for your child. You need to see what your state’s requirements are regarding a guardian. It is important that the guardian you select is a relative whom the child is comfortable with. In addition to this, the guardian should not have any criminal record.
- Talk to your friends and family as to who would be the perfect guardian for you child.
- Have a discussion with your child to see who he/she trusts and would be comfortable around.
- Make your final decision and let the guardian know as well so that both of you can prepare for court. Moreover, the guardian can then also make proper arrangements for your child.
- Once this is dne, you should decide which court you want to go to.
- Fill out the necessary legal guardianship forms and attach all documents that might be required.
- You should remember to attend all court hearings.
- Once the court has appointed your chosen guardian, make sure to get copies of the judge’s order in case the guardian is required to show them at your child’s school or doctor’s office.
What if the child’s parents do not consent?
A child’s guardianship is usually only given if:
- the approval of both parents is given (both the parents need to give their permission, unless only one is present);
- the parents have deserted their child
- their parental rights have been annulled; or
- The judiciary extracts the child from under the parents’ care, keeping the child’s best interest in mind.
However, the judicial system has often been seen granting guardianship to someone other than the parents, even if the parents disapprove. This is generally the case when the court deems the parents (or parent) unsuitable to take care of the child.
If you want a child’s guardianship, it is important to keep in mind that other family members (besides the parents) also hold the right to be informed about your interest in acquiring the guardianship and to object to it.
Despite the fact that you do not require the approval of all these relatives, it does not mean that their opposition isn’t injurious to your pursuit of the child’s guardianship. Such a situation could create tensions and strains even after (or if) the guardianship is provided. In such cases, it is always recommended to immediately discuss matters with a lawyer.
Temporary guardianship without court
Guardianship of a child can also be established without going to court. This can be done by becoming a Standby Guardian. A standby guardianship is formed when the parents sign a document available from the probate court which states that they approve to have the grandparent or relative take care of their child.
A standby guardian is someone who is selected by the parent of a child to take care of the child in case the parent:
- Dies or is mentally disabled
- Infirmed by an illness or injury
- Subject to a harsh immigration action
Guardianship does not mean custody that you are handing over the custody of your child. Thus, parents do not lose their rights at all. At least one parent must consent to this arrangement. Moreover, a parent may annul their approval to the standby guardianship at any time.
Now that you know all about legal guardianships, you can decide what is best for your child. In case you are planning to appoint a guardian, make sure that it is someone who is absolutely trustworthy.