A parent or legal guardian must provide official documentation to prove legal guardianship. A birth certificate with both parents' names and a social security card with the child's name provides minimal evidence. Legally separated and divorced parents must present court orders and documents that clearly state the child custody arrangements. Grandparents and other relatives with temporary or permanent child custody can obtain legal documentation from juvenile court proceedings. Domestic and international adoptive parents need to provide finalized adoption papers from the appropriate agencies.
Verify that both parents' names are listed on the birth certificate and that a social security card has been issued in the child's name. Both parents' state drivers licenses and social security cards can be requested for additional confirmation.
Confirm the parents marital status. A marriage certificate with both parents' names on it, at time of the child's birth, provides a legal presumption of parental rights and responsibilities.
Ask whether either parent has filed for legal separation or divorce. Request legal documentation on the child-custody arrangements. Both parents' maintain legal parental rights unless otherwise ordered by the court.
Establish the whereabouts of each parent. If one or both parents are absent, speak with a legal guardian. Ask the legal guardian to submit in writing, both parents' names, addresses, social security numbers and reason for absence.
Require the legal guardian to submit a birth certificate, social security card and state driver's license. Request a written statement from each absent parent and a court order in support of the guardianship.
Research any case history on the legal separation, divorce, child custody, adoption or legal guardianship proceedings in the appropriate state court. Review the court proceeding documents available online or through the court clerk's office.
Match the names of the child, parents, adoptive parents, foster parents or legal guardians in the court records system with the appropriate case names. Court documents processed through the court clerk's office have a case number. Use the case number to locate court records. Search the case documents by date and match the date of the child custody orders in your possession.
- All documents can be forged. Accept only original and certified copies. Notary public verification is only as reliable as the identification and documentation presented.
- Parents who relinquish legal guardianship informally must still provide appropriate legal documentation of the child-custody arrangements. Legal guardianship forms can be filled out and filed with the court.
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