A “guardianship agreement” is a legal document that is used to transfer the legal responsibility and care of a child to another party.
Generally speaking, guardianship agreements are typically created by the parents of a child as a precaution, in case a future event arises that makes them unable to care for their child any longer. The document will instruct who and how to transfer their legal responsibility and supervision of the child to someone else.
In addition, guardianship agreements can be enforced by entering into a number of different legal documents. For example, a guardianship agreement can be incorporated as part of a will document as a way to potentially create a guardianship arrangement for any surviving children should their parents become deceased.
Finally, a guardianship agreement can sometimes be a standalone document or drafted in the form of an affidavit. Guardianship agreements can also be created for adults that may need supervision as well due to mental disabilities or after becoming incapacitated.
What Should be Contained in a Guardianship Agreement?
Every guardianship agreement is uniquely created from another since the agreement will depend on the individual who requires caring and their personal circumstances. The actual form or document itself can also change the terms of the guardianship agreement. This is because individual states have different guidelines for drafting one.
However, there are several similarities that apply to all guardianship agreements, including that the following items should be contained within their terms:
- The parties to the agreement must be identified within the document. This will include the name of the child or adult who is in need of the guardianship, their parents or current guardian(s), and the person to be named as the new guardian.
- The agreement should also include how long the arrangement should last. For example, there are temporary and emergency guardianships available, or the parties can opt for a permanent guardianship depending on the situation.
- If there is a specific purpose that is to be fulfilled by the guardianship, then it should be stated within the document. When these terms are included, they should also mention whether the guardianship should terminate once the purpose of it is achieved.
Another important concept to keep in mind about guardianships is that there is such a thing as a “guardian of the estate.” This type of guardianship occurs when a person becomes the guardian of another individual’s property, personal belongings, and other assets (i.e., the estate).
In these instances, the parties should also consider forming a guardianship agreement, and if they do, then it must clearly state the property and/or assets that the guardian will be responsible for overseeing.
Can a Guardianship Agreement be Challenged?
There are certain circumstances that can arise where an individual may want to challenge or reverse a guardianship agreement. This is certainly possible, but it could be a difficult process.
A common example of when this might happen is when the current guardian has behaved in an abusive or violent manner towards the child, or if they have neglected to care for them. In such cases, the court may intervene to cancel the guardianship agreement and will appoint a new person as guardian for the child.
Another example is where the biological parent or parents of a child are seeking to regain custody over their child. If this is the case, then the court may terminate the existing guardianship agreement, but only if the court finds that it is in the child’s best interest.
Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Help with a Guardianship Agreement?
Guardianship agreements are considered to be very important documents for any type of guardianship arrangement. The reason for this is because these agreements help determine how to continue caring for a child or an incapacitated adult; both of whom are vulnerable parties in the eyes of the law. Therefore, they require a loyal and trustworthy person to look out for their well-being.
Given the high risk involved with choosing the right guardian and creating a valid guardianship agreement, it is strongly recommended that you speak with a local family law attorney prior to entering into any agreement or if you have questions concerning the guardianship laws in your area.
In addition, an experienced family law attorney will be able to help you draft, review, and submit your guardianship agreement to the court for approval. A lawyer can also provide legal representation during any court proceedings, such as if there is a challenge regarding the guardianship arrangement.
Finally, you should also speak to a family lawyer if you have been appointed as a guardian. There are many major rights and duties involved with becoming a guardian. A lawyer will be able to answer any questions you have about the role and can explain what is expected of you once you become a guardian.