More and more frequently, grandparents and other family members (aunts and uncles for example) are needed to raise children not their own. When neither parent can take care of a child’s basic needs, guardianship of the child and sometimes their estate (if the child receives money from social security or other source as an example) is necessary.
There are three types of guardianships for minors, namely Temporary Guardianship, Permanent Guardianship, and Standby Guardians.
PERMANENT GUARDIANSHIPS are appropriate in situations wherein there is not a parent available or capable of providing basic needs for a minor and the need for care is anticipated to surpass the 90-day temporary guardianships.
• A guardian stands in the shoes of a natural parent and takes full responsibility for the health, welfare, and safety of the minor child until the minor child reaches the age of 18 or a parent can prove to the court that their circumstances have changed, and it is no longer in the child’s best interests for the guardianship to continue.
• A court may make provisions for visitation by one or both parents and order one or both parents to provide child support to the guardian.
• The burden of proof required to dissolve a guardianship is much higher if a court finds that one or both parents are unfit.
• If both the guardian and parent decide the guardianship is no longer necessary, it can be dismissed upon Motion to the Court.
STANDBY GUARDIANS are appropriate when a parent is chronically ill or near death. This type of guardianship can provide much comfort and peace of mind to a parent as they can establish a plan for the care of their child to take effect upon:
1. The death of the parent;
2. The mental incapacity of the parent; or
3. The physical debilitation and consent of the parents.