Legal Guardianship-what is it and what are the requirements to be appointed at a guardian?

A guardian is given legal responsibility for the care of the child; appointed by the court; and responsible for the child until removed by the court or until the child turns 18 years old.


A guardian is appointed for a minor, whose parents cannot or will not care for him or her; whose parents are deceased or their whereabouts are unknown; whose parents agree to the guardianship; or whose parents do nto agree to the guardianship but the minor has been living with the prospective guardian for a significant amount of time.


To become a child’s guardian you must:

·         Be at least 18 years old

·         Be a U.S. resident

·         Be of “sound mind,” meaning logical or stable

·         Not be found “disabled” by the court

·         Not have a felony conviction that involved harm of threat to a child.


There are 4 types of guardians:

·         A “Permanent Legal Guardian” is responsible to feed, clothe, house and educate the child.

·         A “Guardian Ad Litem” (GAL) is someone who the judge appoints to investigate the facts of the case.

·         A “Standby Guardian” is appointed when a parent or guardian names the person who they want to care for the children if the parent dies or becomes permanently unable to care for the children.

·         A “Short-Term Guardian” is a someone appointed by a parent or guardian to care for their child for 365 days or less.


A guardian is entitiled to:

·         Custody of the child;

·         The right to enroll the child in school;

·         The right to consent to medical treatment for the child; and

·         The right to apply and receive public benefits that may be available for the child. (Guardianship does not assure any public benefits will be paid.  Guardianship does not improve the immigration status of the child or guardian.


A guardian is responsible for:

·         Providing food, clothing, and shelter for child;

·         Ensuring the child attends school;

·         Paying all expensese unless child support can be obtained form the parent/s or the child is elgible for public benefits; and

·         Obeying all court orders concerning the child.

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