Parents Dilemma – Guardianship of Young Children

One of the major considerations a young parent is the guardianship appointment. It is not a simple determination. There are several things to consider.

What is Guardianship

According to Indiana Legal Services, Guardianship appoints a person (other than the child’s parent) with legal custody and control over your child. With this legal authority, the guardian makes all decisions concerning the child, and takes legal responsible for the child. “Custody” is the legal custody and control of the child held by the child’s parent. Guardianship happens when court-appointed, non-parent holds legal custody and control of the child.

When Does Guardianship Happen

When necessary, guardianship results when a Court appoints another person this legal right after a parent gives up his or her custodial right. By default, this is a permanent appointment. However, it may be addressed by petition of the court later. A guardianship ends when a person with cognitive capacity reaches 18 years of age. Additionally, Guardianship occurs if parents die with minor children.

How does a Court Determine Who Should be Given the Guardianship Authority

To appoint a Guardian, the Court holds hearings to review evidence and testimony to determine who should be appointed Guardian. The driving factor for that the appointment, in the eyes of the court, is in the best interest of the child. Often, the Court appoints a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) to do its investigative work. The GAL interviews the children as well as possible Guardian candidates, and investigates other questions of the court. The Court sends Notice to key family members and others the Court determines should be made aware of the Guardianship proceedings. The Court ultimately makes its determination and grants legal authority to the Guardian over the children.

Can a Deceased Parent Appoint a Guardian He or She Wants

A parent nominates to the Court, but not directly appoints a Guardian. The Court requires proper legal documentation from the parent to receive the parent’s nomination. However, the guardianship process allows the nomination to be challenged in Court. Normally, the nomination needs to be overcome by evidence presented or gained by the GAL.

Therefore, it is important for parents to do some base planning.

How Can You Learn About Planning Options

Join us for a free legal conversation – a Q & A session – hosted by Estate Planning Attorney RG Skadberg. Visit the Parent Event page to learn about and sign-up for our monthly event.

Alternatively, you can request a free 30 minute, personal consultation with RG to discuss your specific questions, situations, and concerns now. Complete the form to the right or call (219) 200-3902 to set up a time to meet with RG.