Do you need help with family law guardianship? Even if you were to seek out the advice of an attorney, your legal decisions are still yours to make.
There are many people, however, who aren’t capable of making these choices on their own.
In these cases, a family law guardianship can be established. Further, this will allow an individual to make legal decisions on another party’s behalf.
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A legal guardianship arrangement can be instituted by a court order. Also, it can be done via a decision by an adult with the authority to make such a selection.
This occurs in order to safeguard the legal rights of individuals that typically can’t make decisions in a court of law. A family law guardianship can be established in a variety of instances.
Children: Minor children have a variety of rights. However, they are incapable of making important legal decisions. Also, an adult is often assigned to ensure the child is protected physically and financially.
Incapacitated Seniors: An adult guardianship can be established for a senior citizen who can no longer make important decisions for themselves. This can be related to disease or injury.
Incapacitated or Developmentally Disabled Adults: Old age isn’t the only situation where an adult may not be able to make their own legal decisions. Developmental disabilities or serious injuries may also necessitate a family law guardianship.
Being given legal guardianship of another person may sound simple on its face. However, it’s actually a very complex process.
You should seek out legal representation before making any big decisions on this front. Further, establishing a basic understanding of this arrangement can give you an idea of what’s to come.
If you’re granted guardianship over another person, you have the right to make important legal and financial decisions on their behalf.
It’s important to note that courts may require a conservator to seek judicial approval before making certain decisions, but this is only one of the many responsibilities faced by those who are granted guardianship.
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Guardianships vs Adoptions
When it comes to minor children, many individuals believe adoption and guardianship are the same things. In reality, these are two very distinct legal terms that each has its own nuances.
A significant difference relates to permanence. Whereas a family law guardianship of a minor is usually temporary, adoption is permanent.
What is Adoption?
When someone adopts a child, they are legally viewed as that child’s parent. Also, if a biological parent has given up or lost their rights, they no longer have any duty.
They don’t need to provide financial support or care for the child in any way. Therefore, unless a will is in place, the minor also loses any rights to the biological parent’s assets.
Guardianship Differences In Family Law
Since guardianship is usually temporary, the biological parents still maintain a legal relationship with their child. Further, this arrangement only means that the conservator can make certain decisions on the child’s behalf.
When the guardian is granted legal and physical custody of the child, they take on many of the same responsibilities. This might include providing food, shelter, clothing as an adoptive parent would.
A family law guardianship with a minor can end in several ways. If one of the following events occurs, the legal relationship is dissolved.
- The child turns 18 or the locality’s statutory legal age
- Assets are exhausted (this only occurs in guardianship instances based solely on finance management)
- Death of the child
- Guardianship dissolved by court order
None of these events would end the legal relationship between an adoptive parent and their child.
Parents in Need of Guardianship
A biological or adoptive parent would typically have no need to set up a family law guardianship. In rare instances, however, this does become a necessity.
This is commonly seen when a child receives a large amount of money or property.
Courts are hesitant to simply give a child’s property to their parents. However, it’s also understandable that a five-year-old minor doesn’t need access to $10,000 left to them in a will.
In these situations, guardianship can be established. The parents can then manage the assets but still be required to account for their actions.
A guardian normally comes in when someone is mentally incapable of taking care of the child. The new person becomes the guardian of the person. When people cannot agree, the courts will appoint a guardian.
You should get legal advice from a lawyer before recommending a proposed guardian. There are many Acts that might apply, as the substitute decisions act. The law can be complicated, so you should hire attorneys for personal care legal advice.
Family Law Adult Guardianships
Adult guardianships are different than those related to minors, even though they serve many of the same purposes. If you’re considering an adult guardianship, you should know the three types of arrangements.
Guardian of the Estate: The conservator has responsibility for the ward’s assets. This will include handling property, bank accounts, and tax filings.
Guardian of the Person: The conservator will handle an incapacitated person’s medical needs. This includes dealing with health insurance, medical bills, and setting up appointments.
Plenary Guardian: This family law guardianship relationship puts the conservator in charge of the ward’s medical and financial well-being.
Are you involved in a situation that may require a family law guardianship? You should get legal assistance immediately. Guardianship laws are quite complex.
If you try to navigate the system alone, you may end up with unnecessary legal arrangements. Further, you might spend money on redundant court filings.
Also, it’s best to get legal guidance from the start. Therefore, this will ensure everything is in order.
Author: Alistair Vigier is the CEO of ClearWay Law