Guardianship FAQ

Guardianship FAQ

Can I name a guardian for my child?

You can request a specific person be appointed guardian of your children in the event of your death in your estate paperwork. The courts will make every effort to honor request, as long as they determine that it is in the best interests of the child.  In the event that you are facing a terminal illness and have legal custody of the child, you can request that the court assign a specific person as guardian in order to ease the child’s transition once you are deceased.  If the court approves your request, you will most likely be granted a joint guardianship until the event of your death, allowing both you and the legal guardian to make decisions regarding the care and wellbeing of the child.  If you would prefer not to go to court, you can sign a notarized letter allowing a specific person to make some decisions regarding your child’s health and education needs, but in order for a more permanent solution, you will need to request a formal guardianship order from the court.

Can a child ask for a guardian?

While states may differ on the qualifying age, generally speaking, a child may request a guardianship appointment from the court.

What if I do not know the identify or location of the child’s parents or family?

In order to successfully petition the court for appointment as guardian of a minor child, you will have to demonstrate that you have notified all interested parties, including the parents and relatives of the child.  If you cannot find information about the child’s parents or relatives, you will have to show the court that you made a good faith effort to find the interested parties.  Each state has different requirements about the necessary steps needed in order to proceed in an action for guardianship when the parents identity or location is unknown and other relatives cannot be contacted.

What if the parent is out of state or incarcerated?

If the parent is out of state or incarcerated, you will still be required by the court to give proper notice to the parents prior the guardianship hearing.  The parents will have a right to respond to your request and contest the guardianship.  Ultimately, the court will make its decision based on what is best for the child.

Can I relocate out of state/country with the child if I am that child’s guardian?

Generally speaking, you cannot relocate out of state or country while you are the guardian of the minor child residing in the state that is the child’s primary residence.  In order to move out of state, you will need to receive permission from the court.

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