A guardianship is the legal definition for when an adult has an official and legal relationship with a child who is not biologically their own. The guardian can make the same decisions that a parent would be able to make, and similarly has a responsibility to act in the child’s best interest. Guardianships might sound similar to adoptions but the two are actually quite different.
Reasons for a Guardianship
There are a variety of reasons someone may decide to appoint someone else as guardian of their child. Parental incarceration, chronic illness, or the inability to be a fit parent are all reasons why parents might contact a guardian lawyer. Another very common reason for granting guardianship is when an underage teenager becomes pregnant. In these cases, the teen parent might choose to name their own parent(s) as the guardian(s) of the young child.
Additionally, parents might name a “guardianship of the estate” and still retain full custody of their child. This type of guardianship allows another person — usually someone who is not related to the child — to manage the child’s finances. This form of guardianship might be most applicable if the child has, or will have, a large number of assets that are not intended for the parents in any way. An estate planning lawyer might suggest, for example, that parents set up a guardian of their child’s estate simply to take away some of the burden of managing complex assets.
What Does a Guardian Provide?
A legal guardian provides all of the basic necessities and daily care that a parent would be expected to provide. This includes everything from clothes and shelter to education and medical care. When someone is the legal guardian of a child, they are permitted to make decisions about the child that, normally, only the child’s parent would be allowed to make. These decisions might pertain to major life events, but they can also be something as simple as signing a permission slip for a school field trip.
A guardian is typically expected to continue providing care for the child for as long as the child’s parent would have provided care. Legally, guardianships usually end when the child turns 18 (which is the age when most parents no longer have full custody over their children). If a judge determines that the guardianship is no longer necessary before the child turns 18, or if the child’s biological parent is able to care for the child, then the guardianship might end early.
If a parent has given guardianship to another person and wishes to revoke it, they will almost certainly want to consult with a guardianship lawyer first. Generally, the parent will need to attend court and make an argument that they are capable of taking care of the child, and that they are not preempted from custody by some other decision or law. The difficulty, expenses, and stress of this experience may be largely based on the current guardian’s position on the issue. This can greatly vary by person.
If you are considering granting someone else guardianship over your child but have not done so yet, it’s wise to contact a guardianship lawyer as soon as possible. This is a decision that could emotionally and financially impact you — and your child — for the rest of your lives. Even if a guardianship isn’t the right choice for your family, a guardian lawyer can help you determine other options that may better suit your needs. In the event you have any further questions regarding guardianship, do not hesitate to contact Scottsdale AZ Guardianship Lawyer for more information.
Thank you to Arizona Estate Planning Attorneys for providing their expertise and insight on Guardianship.