In Michigan, guardianship is third-person custody of a child -- that is, custody by any person who is not the child's parent. For a non-parent to obtain custody of a child, a formal request or complaint must be filed with the court. The court will then determine whether to grant custody to the third party based on the information presented and the best interests of the child. In addition, Michigan law allows for standby guardianship -- designation of a person as a child's guardian in anticipation of the parents' demise or incapacitation. Standby guardians have extremely limited rights and authority under Michigan law.
Complete a Petition for Appointment of Guardian of a Minor form and file by mail or in person with your county court. This petition may be filed by anyone who is not a parent of the child. This form requires information about you, the child, and any other parties, such as parents, involved in the case. You will also need to give background information regarding the child's circumstances and the reason for the guardianship request.
With the petition, file a Minor Guardianship Social History. This provides information about prior parents, guardians, and domestic situations, such as domestic violence, substance abuse, or mental health issues within the home.
There is a $150.00 fee to file this petition as of January 2011.
Call or visit the court to schedule a hearing. If you submitted your paperwork by mail, allow two to three days in processing time before you call.
Serve any other parties involved in the case with the Petition for Appointment of Guardian of a Minor and Notice of Hearing. Interested parties who must be served may include the child's parents, the child, if 14 years or older, a current or nominated guardian, or any state agencies currently providing support to the child. All parties must be served at least 14 days prior to the hearing if served by mail or 7 days prior to the hearing if served in person. Complete the proof of service form and file with the court. If you don't know how to contact a party involved, you must make every effort, including searching the phone book and contacting friends and relatives.
Attend the hearing and give testimony regarding the child's situation and the need for guardianship.
At the hearing, you will need to submit an Order Regarding Appointment of Guardian of a Minor; Acceptance of Appointment signed by the nominated guardian; and Letters of Guardianship, which certify the guardianship situation to interested parties, such as schools, doctors and insurance offices.
At the end of the hearing, the judge will make a ruling regarding guardianship.
Court officers are not permitted to dispense legal advice. If you need advice during the guardianship legal process, contact a lawyer. Legal assistance is recommended in most cases, particularly if the parent or other party is contesting guardianship.
After guardianship is granted, you will need to regularly submit to the court an Annual Report of Guardian on Condition of Minor.
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