A guardian is a person who has been legally entrusted with the upbringing, protection, or benefit of another person, named the “ward”.  The guardianship relationship is usually appointed by a court, and typically involves children whose parents are no longer able to provide them with care. 

Do Guardians Have Visitation Rights?

Child custody and visitation can sometimes be a complicated matter.  For example, the custody arrangement may involve a mix of biological parents, adoptive parents, stepparents, other relatives like grandparents, and guardians. 

Guardianship does not always involve actual physical custody of the child.  For example, the guardian may have various responsibilities related to the child’s upbringing, but a biological parent may have physical custody of the child.  In many cases, guardians can often be granted visitation rights, so long as it is deemed to be in the best interest of the child.  This can be requested directly through the court order covering custody and visitation.

Again, the main determining factor for guardian or caretaker visitation rights is the child’s best interest.  That is, the visitation arrangement must serve to directly further the child’s interests, not the interests of any other parents or adult parties.

Can Guardians Determine the Visitation Rights of Other Parties?

In some jurisdictions, guardians may even have the power to restrict or limit the visitation rights of others.  For example, a guardian can sometimes restrict a biological parent from visiting the child, especially if there has been a history of violent physical abuse by the parent.  Here, the guardian may be able to obtain a court order preventing the biological parent from obtaining visitation rights.

If a guardian has placed such limitations on visitation rights, they are usually backed by a court order.  This means that a party that wishes to challenge such visitation arrangements will also have to file in court in order to have the visitation arrangement changed.  These types of visitation limitations are more common with guardians of elderly persons or adults with disabilities.

Do I Need a Lawyer if I Have Legal Issues Regarding Guardian Visitation Laws?

Guardian visitation rights can vary widely by state and according to the child’s best interest.  If you have any legal issues at all regarding guardian or caretaker visitation rights, it’s best to hire a qualified family lawyer.  An experienced attorney can provide you with assistance during court hearings, and will be able to provide you with legal advice for various matters.