How to Retain Guardianship of a Minor Child

By Anna Green
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To retain guardianship of a minor child, you must obtain approval from the child's legal parents and a court of jurisdiction in the minor's home state, and prepare an agreement outlining the details of the arrangement. Because each state has its own procedures and laws regarding guardianship of a minor, you should speak with an attorney and court clerk before drafting a guardianship agreement or attempting to keep a minor child out of the custody of her legal parents.

Put the details of the guardianship arrangement in writing. Although the specific requirements for the contents of a guardianship agreement vary by state, generally, the document must list the full name of the child, his parents, the names of the proposed guardians, and each party's address and date of birth.

List your reasons for requesting continued guardianship. Briefly describe the circumstances under which you obtained guardianship initially and state why you wish to continue the arrangement.

Get written consent from the child's legal parents. Although a court may allow you to retain guardianship of the child without the parents' consent, attempt to get signed consents expressly permitting you to continue as the minor's guardian. If the whereabouts of the child's parents are unknown, document your efforts to locate them and present this information to the court.

Sign and date the guardianship agreement in front of a notary public. The child's parents should also be present to execute the document, if they agree with continuing the arrangement.

File the guardianship agreement and consent forms with the court. Once the clerk's office receives the documents, the court will assign you a hearing date.

Establish that continued guardianship is in the best interest of the minor. At your hearing, the judge will evaluate what custody arrangement serves the child's best interests. The judge will assess your relationship with the child, as well as your ability to care for her physical, emotional, educational and medical needs. If the court agrees that you should become the child's caregiver, you will receive a written order allow you to continue as the child's guardian.

About the Author

Anna Green has been published in the "Journal of Counselor Education and Supervision" and has been featured regularly in "Counseling News and Notes," Keys Weekly newspapers, "Travel Host Magazine" and "Travel South." After earning degrees in political science and English, she attended law school, then earned her master's of science in mental health counseling. She is the founder of a nonprofit mental health group and personal coaching service.