Becoming a legal guardian can mean several things, and it depends on what the situation is for you to become one. The situations can vary, but it is a serious commitment no matter what. To understand what it means to be a legal guardian of a child, we have broken it down into a few key details that you should know.

Types Of Guardianship 

The most common legal guardianship cases are caused by illness, death, or incarceration. Occasionally there is willful abandonment of a child.  There is more to just taking over the care of a child as there are legal responsibilities such as school enrollment and medical care.  Please note that guardianship is not to be confused with custody over the child which only pertains to exist between the parents. 

General Guardianship

If the court orders full guardianship, you will have complete responsibility for the child and any decision-making. Essentially, full authority over the child includes responsibility for financial, legal, and personal affairs. This is typically appointed to aunts, uncles, or grandparents, but occasionally circumstances allow non-relatives to be selected as official guardian.  

Temporary Guardianship 

Again, depending on the circumstances, the court may order a temporary guardianship due to any number of situations.  If parents are unable to parent due to their own mental or physical challenges (including drug/alcohol abuse), the court may allow time for them to show a change in behavior and sustainability to have their child returned to their watch.   A second court hearing will occur to determine the possibilities after a certain period, often after six months.

Legal Guardianship 

Legal guardians are recognized by the court as responsible for the child.  They must fill out the appropriate paperwork and acknowledge that they are not only willing to take on this role but can also support the child financially and emotionally.  This responsibility will continue until the child has turned 18 years old. Legal guardians are typically entitled to compensation, either through the state or, depending on the circumstances, from the parent’s income or their will or trust. 

How To Become A Guardian 

Most court findings will have the child appointed to a family member who lives in the same state as the child. This is primarily so that the courts can monitor the child more easily. To be selected as guardian, the parent will typically nominate someone, and they must get approval from the court. 

According to Michigan Child Welfare Law, anyone can be appointed as a guardian. Courts will typically appoint the guardianship to someone over the age of 18 and who has never been convicted of a serious crime. If the unfortunate circumstance occurs where a parent has died before appointing a guardian for their child, the decision will be based on what courts think will be in the best interest of the child.   Sometimes children have a number of people clamoring to act as their guardian and the court may appoint an attorney to act on behalf of the child to make recommendations to the court on the child’s best interests, including an analysis of the best choice for appointment as guardian.  The court may also choose to interview the child.

The Best Option For Guardianship Appointment 

The best and easiest way to settle any disputes is to plan accordingly. It can be daunting to think of a future that might come to be, but it is best to be prepared. Hire a skilled and experienced attorney of family law to help settle any disputes, or to help you be prepared. Contact KGP Law today for more information.

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