Becoming A Guardian: What To Know

Children under the age of 18 have certain protections under the law. When a biological parent is not available or is unable to parent the child, a guardian may be appointed by a family court judge. Taking on guardianship can mean having the same legal rights as a biological parent and can be a big responsibility. Read on to find out more about what it means to become a guardian.

Court Ordered Guardianship

If you have been asked to take care of a minor-aged child, that is not exactly the same thing as being a guardian. A guardianship is a legal matter and it can only be accomplished with a judge's approval. Regardless of how the situation comes about, the court takes this issue very seriously and you must be prepared to show that you are suitable for the job.

Guardianship and Duration

This doesn't have to become a permanent status—you can be appointed to be a child's guardian for a limited or specified period of time. For example, if a single parent becomes too ill to care for a child, they may ask a friend or family member to step in and be a legal guardian for their child until they recover.

What Powers Do Guardian Have?

Each guardianship agreement is created based on the needs of the child. Usually, the written agreement spells out what is expected of the guardian. For a young child, that might mean taking care of their basic needs like:

  • Feeding
  • Clothing
  • Seeing that they attend school
  • Overseeing any needed medical care
  • Housing

Are Guardians Paid?

This job, just like being a parent, does not come with a salary. The child's expenses, however, may be taken care of. If the guardianship is temporary, the biological parent may pay expenses. If the guardianship is permanent, however, the guardian is responsible for any expenses.

Parental Involvement

In some cases, the biological parent or parents have been stripped of their parental rights. This is a serious issue and usually involves heinous wrongdoing by a parent. Once that happens, guardians may be appointed by the court regardless of the parent's wishes. If the parent has has not been stripped of any rights, their permission is needed before a guardian can be appointed. Either way, the person chosen must pass background checks and submit to other evaluations before they can be approved.

Speak to your family attorney to learn more about this issue.

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