Legal guardians are individuals that have legal authority to care for another person. The individual being cared for is called a ward. Legal guardians must take care of their ward's personal and property interests.
Legal guardianship is commonly used for:
- Incapacitated seniors
- Developmentally disabled adults
Legal guardians for minors are the most common guardianship. A legal guardian acts as the primary caretaker of a child or minor. This person may be personally selected by the child’s biological parents, or appointed by the court. Guardianship arrangements are necessary when a child's biological parents are unable to provide care.
What Are the Rights and Duties of a Legal Guardian?
Becoming a legal guardian involves many different legal rights and duties. A legal guardian generally has the right to make legal decisions on behalf of the child. These can include decisions, such as where to live, where to send the child to school, and other important aspects.
Responsibilities of a legal guardian are also broad. In most cases, the legal guardian also has legal and physical custody of the child. This means that they must fulfill duties in the same way as a parent would for their child. These responsibilities may include:
- Providing food
- Purchasing clothing
- Providing shelter for the child
- Maintaining the child’s physical and emotional health
- Protecting the child from safety hazards
Is Guardianship Permanent?
This depends on the order issued by the court. Legal guardianship of a minor will generally end when the child reaches the age of majority (usually 18 years old). Guardianship may also end for other reasons, for instance if the guardian becomes incapacitated.
Also, some legal guardianship arrangements are designed to be temporary at the outset. This is common if the biological parents request for the guardianship to be temporary, or if there is a pressing emergency situation involved.
Should I Get a Lawyer If I Have a Legal Guardian Issue?
Yes. Legal guardianship determinations are treated seriously in family law courts. These will affect the child’s future upbringing as well as the rights of the biological parents. If you need help with legal guardian laws in your area, you should contact an experienced family law attorney. Your lawyer can provide you with legal advice and represent you during guardianship hearings in court.