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  • Writer's pictureSchuyler Laverentz

What is a guardianship and why would I need to file one? Also, should I consent to a guardianship?

Updated: May 19, 2021

A guardianship is filed in probate court for several reasons. The most common is the parents of a minor child or children are not fit to care for their kids. Normally, because of domestic abuse, sexual abuse or drug and alcohol abuse. Anyone can file for guardianship of a child. There is a preference for family members, but you don't have to be related to the child to file. I've successfully filed for guardianship of an infant on behalf of two people who were just friends of the parents. You do have to pass a background check (actually, several) and those background checks must be filed with the court.

If a court grants you guardianship of a minor child, you have all the powers of a natural parent. The child would live with you and go to school in the school district where you live. You would have no obligation to allow either parent to talk to or see the child unless the judge specifically orders visitation to occur. You would be financially responsible for the child and, except in rare cases, would not receive child support from the parents. (Honestly, they probably don't have jobs anyway)

Guardianships are permanent unless and until one or both parents file a motion in the probate court to terminate because they allege they are now fit, willing and able to act as natural guardians of the child. A guardianship does dissolve when the child turns 18 unless there are other reasons for it to continue. For example, if the child is mentally or physically handicapped.

Sometimes guardianships of adults are appropriate. A parent with Alzheimer's disease or an elderly person who can no longer take care of himself are common reasons.

WARNING: If you are a parent and being asked to consent to a guardianship, be very careful until you talk to an attorney. The potential guardian may tell you it is only temporary, but that is not true. Once a guardianship is ordered by a probate court, it can be very hard to successfully terminate. You would have to hire a lawyer to file a motion and likely have a full hearing on whether you are now fit, willing and able to act as a natural guardian.

This may be my most boring blog post yet. You have my apologies. I'm not sure if there is much humor in taking kids from their parents, but sometimes it has to be done to protect those children. As usual, Schuyler Laverentz is the author of this post.

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