A permanent guardianship is a relationship between a minor child and a guardian (i.e. an adult caretaker), where the guardian has a legal duty to take care of the child. The guardian is responsible for the health, safety, and welfare of the child, and must provide the child with an education, a home, and health care. Generally, a permanent guardianship is created where the child’s birth parent(s) are not have the resources or capacity to care for the child.
How to Obtain Permanent Guardianship
The guardianship process can be started without the parent ever knowing about it. The caretaker only has to file a request with the probate court and notify the parent or someone who knows of the parent’s whereabouts. Sometimes, parents are never able to locate the hearing date, and thus, lose guardianship of their children.
Guardianship is usually temporary. Permanent guardianship is granted by a court when a child's parents have passed away or in other extreme cases.
The Importance of Guardianship
When a caretaker becomes a guardian, he or she is able to:
- Enroll a child in school
- Make emergency medical decisions
- Manage a child’s property and money
- Help a child get her inheritance
- Help a child receive her public assistance and social security benefits
Even if the birth parents cannot be reached, the caretaker cannot make these decisions.
If you are taking care of someone else’s child full-time and it is hard to get in contact with the child’s parent, then you will most likely need to have guardianship.
Terminating the Guardianship
Once permanent guardianship is awarded, parents can still reclaim guardianship rights to their child. Parents may file objections in the family law courts to get their legal rights back.
However, once permanent guardianship is awarded to a caretaker, it is difficult to terminate it. Judges want to give children a stable home life. Parents must prove that they are responsible and are financially and physically competent to take care of their children.
Do I Need Legal Help?
You may need an attorney’s assistance to effectively navigate the legal system to obtain permanent guardianship of a minor.
If you are a parent seeking to re-obtain guardianship rights, you should consult with an experienced family law attorney. A lawyer can help parents do all the necessary filings and appearances at the family law courts to get their children back.