Ohio law presumes that the natural or adoptive parents of a child will serve as his guardian through the age of majority (18). In some circumstances, the parents have passed away or are no longer able to care for the child. A guardian can be appointed by the Ohio probate court to care for the mental, physical and financial well-being of the child. The proposed guardian must petition the court for guardianship and provide notice to all close family members or governmental entities interested in the child's well-being. A guardianship hearing will be held to determine whether the arrangement will be in the best interest of the child.
Ensure the arrangement will be sound under Ohio law. Ohio defines the individual to be taken care of as a "ward." The guardian is the person responsible for the ward's care. In the instance of a minor, the ward must be under age 18. Individuals over age 18 may be eligible for guardianship but this will be based upon a different set of circumstances and laws. Additionally, the proposed guardian must be a resident of the state of Ohio at the time of filing for guardianship. To apply to be a guardian, the applicant must be interested in the well-being of the child. The guardian may apply himself, may be appointed in the parents' wills or may be selected by a child over 14 years of age.
File a guardianship application in the probate court within the county where the ward resides. The form will ask general questions relating to the guardian's and ward's county of residence and identifying information. The applicant must attach an affidavit (assertions sworn under oath) attesting to the child's current location, places where the child has lived for the past five years and the name and present address of each person the child has lived with within the past five years. Other requirements may be applicable to the specific situation present in the unique guardianship request. The probate application will also ask whether the applicant has ever been convicted of sexual crimes, substance abuse, theft or violence. Finally, the application requires that the applicant provide information regarding the size of the minor's estate.
File the guardianship application along with the required affidavit in the probate court where the ward resides. There is at least one probate court in each county in Ohio. Applicants must hand the materials to the court clerk who will certify they are complete. The proposed guardian must ensure that all interested parties are properly served with notice of the pending guardianship hearing. In addition, parties must sign the attached affidavit stating they received notice of the pending hearing.
Attend the guardianship hearing on the date given on the notice. Guardianship hearings are typically held within 30 days from the original petition for guardianship. All interested parties are welcome and encouraged to attend and provide testimony or evidence relevant to the determination of guardianship. Be prepared to argue to the court why it is in the child's best interest for the proposed guardian to be appointed. The court will make a decision at the conclusion of the hearing.
Understand the rights of the guardian and ward. These rights include the right to be present at the hearing, to contest any application for guardianship, to bring a friend or family member to the hearing, to have a court reporter transcribe the hearing and to have an attorney appointed. The guardian is required to submit to the court on a regular basis a list of all assets of the ward and a yearly report describing the mental and physical state of the ward.