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How to Obtain Legal Guardianship

In any situation where you don’t currently have legal guardianship of a child the process of obtaining it can be a long and confusing process without guidance. To help ease the burden of obtaining guardianship we wanted to share some specific details on exactly how to obtain legal guardianship.

 Legal Guardianship

Before we can delve into how to obtain legal guardianship we must first understand what it actually means. A legal guardian is someone who is responsible, legally, for the upbringing and care of a child in terms of parental decisions. This includes schooling, medical decisions, and anything else relating to a child before they turn 18. One important piece to remember with legal guardianship is that it does not include the financial wellbeing of a child, this is something that’s often done by legal guardians but legally rests with the parents.

Obtaining Legal Guardianship

Like many legal matters, the first step in obtaining guardianship is to visit the court office of wherever the child lives and get the appropriate paperwork. These forms officially identify yourself or whoever you’re suggesting should be the guardian as “The Petitioner.” From there you’ll also need to identify the child’s current home situation and details as well as who else might be interested in your claim.

Once you’ve filed the paperwork you must notify the appropriate parties involved with the child by providing them with copies of the paperwork. These parties can include;

  • Anyone who has been involved with caring for the child any time in the last 60 days
  • The parents
  • The child themselves if not at least 14 years old.
  • Anyone else the judge identifies as necessary

The Hearing

Once all parties are notified, one method the case can be solved through agreement, where all parties consent to the legal guardianship and the case it’s simply sent to the judge for approval. In a situation where all parties do not agree the case can take a few different paths, all of which can take a great deal of time and money.

In the case of a disagreement either a single court date or a series of court dates will be chosen where both parties will plead their cases. These hearings will ultimately determine the legal guardianship following their conclusions.

In the case of a disagreement you hold a Burden of Proof where you will be asked to speak in a hearing to attempt to convince the judge on why you would be the proper guardian and why guardianship is necessary. In this situation, you’ll also be required to share why the parent or current guardian is unfit to care for the child.

In some situations, a court may choose a guardian ad litem to interview everyone involved and recommend who would be the best guardian. In this situation the appointed party will advise the judge and is considered as a piece of evidence.

This process of determining legal guardianship can be a long, costly, and emotionally difficult situation for many people. To help reduce the stress and time of these cases we recommend joining us for a free consultation to assist with your case.

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