When a minor-aged child is in need, the state may step in. Children under the age of 18 hold a special, protected status in the court system. When biological parents are unable to care for a child, a guardian may be appointed by the family court. As a guardian, the legal responsibility is the same as that of a parent. To find out more, read on.
When Are Guardians Needed?
Unless a child has taken legal steps to be emancipated, a guardian may be appointed any time the biological parent is:
Almost anyone can become a child's guardian as long as they pass the court's requirements. That usually means a background check is done on the guardian to be. Often, it is a relative of the child that takes on this task. It's not uncommon for aunts/uncles or grandparents of the child to be appointed as guardian. Guardianship duties can be permanent, but they don't necessarily have to be long-term. For example, if a parent is unable to care for a child due to an illness, a guardianship might be arranged temporarily until the parent recovers.
Appointing a guardian may be necessary when a parent fails to parent properly. The courts do everything possible to keep children and biological parents together. The parent may be ruled unfit after extensive child study evaluations have been performed — this is not a quick or impulsive action. In some cases, parents have had their parental rights removed — permanently. This can occur when a parent commits serious crimes, abuses the child, or has permanent incapacity issues. When that happens, the parent has no say in what happens to the child. If they have not lost their parenting rights, however, they can challenge the guardianship if they disagree with it.
Legal Powers of a Guardian
Each guardianship is different. When the agreement is formed, the unique circumstances of the situation are taken into account and vary depending on the age of the child, the reasons for the need, and more. In most cases, however, the duties and responsibilities include these:
Speak to a family lawyer to learn more.
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