A legal guardian is a person authorized to make legal and financial decisions for someone unable to support himself. In the case of children, guardianship allows an adult these rights without terminating the rights of the parents, as would be the case in adoption. If your grandchild spends a lot of time living with you because of a situation at home that provides poor stability, seeking legal guardianship may be a good idea. Legal guardianship will allow you to enroll your grandchild in school, get medical insurance and help with other important decisions.
Speak to a probate lawyer. Guardianship, since it can be applied to infirm adults, is a matter decided in probate court rather than family court. The law regarding guardianship varies from state to state and changes often, and a lawyer will be able to tell you exactly what rights you will have as a guardian.
Obtain a letter from the parents expressing that they are willingly transferring custodial rights to you. This can be permanent or temporary, depending on your situation. Have the letter notarized by a state recognized Public Notary.
File a petition with the court house for guardianship of the child. This form will include a number of questions about your relationship to the child and reasons you are seeking guardianship. Have the parents also sign the application.
Include your notarized letter with your petition. The letter will be taken into consideration by the judge, along with any other statements made to the court, and help your case.
Prepare yourself for a home inspection by a social worker. This will be done to help the court determine your worth as a caregiver to the child. If there are other adults who are living with you, such as roommates, they should prepare themselves for an interview on daily life in your home.
Wait approximately six to eight weeks for your decision. Be aware that this process may take longer depending on the specific circumstances of your case and the availability of a judge to oversee your petition.
- If you are on a fixed or limited income, consider asking for child support from the parents. If the parents are unable to provide additional support, you may consider applying for state assistance. The petitioning process can be completed without a lawyer, but legal aid is good idea for the reasons listed in the instructions above.
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