How to Write a Legal Guardianship Document

By Carrie Ferland
a Legal Guardianship Document

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A legal guardianship document grants temporary guardianship of a minor child to someone other than the child’s parents for a specified period. Legal guardianship documents are typically used to give a friend or relative power to make decisions for the child while the parents are unable to do so, due to work-related travel, vacation, or some other physical incapacity. A legal guardianship document is easy to draft yourself without the help of an attorney.

Determine who will be taking legal guardianship of your child and seek their approval. Writing a legal guardianship document granting power to relatives or friends who are unaware of your intentions or unable to care for your child can lead to a complicated matter later on.

Start a new typed document using your favorite word processor. At the top of the legal guardianship document, type, “Affidavit of Temporary Guardianship.”

State your intention to grant temporary guardianship by typing your full name (and that of your spouse’s, if applicable) below. Use language similar to, “I/We, (full legal name), and (spouse’s full legal name), do hereby grant temporary guardianship of (minor children's full legal names) to (full name or names of the individuals to whom you are granting custody).”

Give the individual(s) you are granting legal guardianship the power to make decisions for your child in your absence. Use language similar to: “(Individuals taking guardianship) shall have all powers and authority over my/our minor child(ren) as I/we would retain absent this affidavit.”

Grant specific authorities to the individuals taking legal guardianship for predetermined activities. For example, if you are allowing your child to go on vacation with her friend’s family, you should include language that allows her friend’s parents to bring her along on their trip. Include dates, times and locations whenever possible.

Allow for termination of the legal guardianship agreement, using language similar to, “(Individuals taking guardianship) shall also have the power and authority to end the agreement for temporary guardianship for any reason by making notification of such intention to (me/us) via telephone. Temporary guardianship will continue after such notification until (I/we) again retain physical custody of (my/our) child(ren) or until adequate arrangements for another qualified individual as chosen by (me/us) to continue caring for (my/our) child(ren) in (my/our) absence has been arranged. (I/We) will be responsible for all expenses incurred by (individual(s) taking custody) should this situation arise.”

Stipulate that legal guardianship end immediately after you regain physical custody of your child, using language similar to, “All powers and authority described herein shall effectively terminate upon the return of (my/our) child(ren) to (my/our) physical custody. No additional notification of termination will be required by either party.”

Type your full name (and that of your spouse’s, if applicable) underneath the last section of the legal guardianship document. Leave space for your signature and the date. Include a section underneath for a notary public to sign and notarize the document below this. Next to the space for the notary’s signature, type “My commission expires:” and leave additional space for the notary to include her information.

Print the completed legal guardianship document and have it notarized by a notary public. Do not sign or date the legal guardianship document until you are in the notary’s presence, as she must witness your signature to notarize it. Your spouse must be present and sign in her presence as well.

Copy the notarized legal guardianship document and retain the copy for your records. Provide the individual(s) taking guardianship of your child with the original notarized legal guardianship document.

About the Author

Carrie Ferland is a practicing civil litigation defense attorney in the Philadelphia Area. As an author, her work has been featured in various legal publications for over 10 years. Ferland is a 2000 graduate of Pennsylvania State University and completed her Juris Doctorate and Master of Business Administration with the Dickinson School of Law. She is currently pursuing a Doctor of Philosophy in English.

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