A family guardian is a person who is chosen or appointed by the court to act as a guardian for child or minor who requires guardianship.  This is typically a blood-relative of the child.  Family guardianship arrangements may be made in cases where the child’s parents have become incapacitated, have become deceased, or are no longer in a position to care for the child.

Some family guardianships are created on a temporary or emergency basis.  Once the biological parent(s) are able to resume care of the child, custody of the child may be transferred back to the parents.  

Who is Eligible to be a Family Guardian?

A family guardian is typically a close blood relative of the child.  This is usually a person who has spent some time with the child, has some emotional or relational connection to them, and is familiar with the child’s needs.  This can be the child’s grandparent, aunt/uncle, or other relative.  In some cases, non-related persons can also serve as family guardian.

The person who is selected as the family guardian generally must be able to provide for the child financially speaking.  They should be emotionally mature and legally able to make decisions on behalf of the child. 

Also, the courts usually won’t appoint a person as family guardian if they have a criminal record, especially one involving violent crimes or crimes against children.

What are Some Responsibilities of Family Guardians?

Becoming a family guardian is a major responsibility.  They are sometimes called upon to basically assume the role of the child’s parent.  They may be required to:

  • Act as primary caretaker for the child or minor
  • Assume legal and/or physical custody of the child
  • Address basic financial, educational, and subsistence needs of the child
  • Make legal decisions on behalf of the child

These responsibilities may change or evolve over time as the child grows older.  The family guardian should therefore be prepared to adapt to the child’s needs over time. 

Do I Need a Lawyer for Help With Family Guardianship Laws?

When appointing a family guardian, the court will render all decisions based on the child’s best interests.  If you need assistance with a guardianship hearing, you should contact a qualified guardianship lawyer in your area.  Your lawyer will be able to explain to you how family guardianship operates, and what your role may be under the circumstances.  Also, in the event of a legal dispute, your attorney can represent you during formal hearings.