Generally speaking, a typical guardianship arrangement involves an adult (the guardian) assuming responsibility for a child (called the “ward”). Guardian ship is usually ordered or approved by a court for children with special needs. Not all children are eligible for guardianship.

While the individual details may vary by state, some guardianship eligibility factors require that the child:

  • Be under 18 years old
  • Cannot or should not be returned to their previous living arrangement with their parents
  • Has "special needs, such as  special emotional, physical, or psychological requirements
  • Is already be in the custody of the state or in the custody of a child-placement agency

In addition to basic guardianship placement, some children are eligible for government assistance, such as subsidies or stipends. There may be other requirements for guardianship that involves these types of additional government assistance.

What Are Some Guardianship Eligibility Factors for the Adult?

The adult guardian of the child must also meet some legal requirements. For instance, it’s usually required that the adult:

  • Hasn’t been convicted of certain felonies and other crimes, such as: crimes against children such as child abuse or kidnapping; crimes of a sexual nature such as rape, sexual assault, and other crimes such as those involving drugs, and other felony offenses
  • Possesses overall good moral character
  • Is of sound mental and physical condition
  • Is generally stable financially speaking

What If I Wish to Contest a Guardianship Arrangement?

In some instances, it may be necessary to contest a guardianship arrangement. This is usually the case if it is found that a guardian has abused, neglected, or mistreated the ward. If this is the case, reversing the guardianship agreement may be required by the court, and a new person may be enlisted to assume the guardianship responsibilities. As in all family law decisions involving children, all important determinations need to be made in fulfillment of the child’s best interest standard.  

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer for Assistance With Guardianship Laws?

Becoming a guardian or entering into guardianship relationship is a major decision. It’s best if such decisions are assisted by the expert guidance of a family law attorney. A qualified lawyer in your area can provide you with advice and legal representation if you need help filing for legal guardianship. In addition, an attorney can represent you in court if you feel you need to challenge or report a particular guardianship relationship.