How to Become the Guardian of a Step-Child

By Stormy Lee

Becoming a guardian to a child means having full parental responsibilities and ensuring the child's needs are met. Anyone can try to gain guardianship of a child, even a step-parent. If a child is being abused by a biological parent or if a parent is absent, it may become necessary to become a guardian to the step-child. In order to do so, the correct steps need to be followed to ensure that becoming the guardian of a step-child is what is in the best interest of the child.

Fill out a petition to become a guardian to the step-child. These forms are available at your local courthouse or you can visit your local courthouse's website and print out the forms.

Review your petition for guardianship with a lawyer who is familiar with guardianship. He will ensure that the forms are filled out accurately and correctly. Make sure you discuss who you are required to give copies of the petition to.

Make copies of the petition. You will need to give a copy to the court and one copy to anyone you are required to give notice to. Make a copy for yourself.

Take the forms to your local courthouse and file them with the court's clerk. You will need to give him all the copies. The clerk will only keep the original and stamp the other copies as "Filed" and hand them back to you. After the forms have been filed you will receive a notice in the mail with the date of your hearing.

Have someone who is 18 or older hand deliver a copy of the petition to people whom you are required to notify. They may include biological parents or grandparents of the child. You need to give notice at least 15 days before a hearing is scheduled for custody so they have an opportunity to attend the hearing if they wish. If anyone who is served these papers doesn't dispute your guardianship then they can sign a Consent and Waiver of Notice form and do not need to sign the Proof of Services form.

Give the person who delivered copies of the petition a Proof of Services form and have her fill it out. This will serve as proof that everyone who needs to know there will be a custody hearing has been informed. Once these forms have been filled out you will need to return them to the clerk of court.

Be interviewed by the court's investigator. The investigator will talk to you about why you want guardianship and discuss issues such as where the step-child will live and go to school. Once the interview is over the investigator will make a recommendation to the judge that is handling your case.

Attend the guardianship hearing. Make sure you bring any forms necessary such as Letters of Guardianship and any relevant court papers. If you aren't sure what papers you will need, ask the court of clerk ahead of time. At the hearing the judge will talk to you about guardianship as well as talk to the child and anyone else relevant to the case. At the end of the hearing the judge will decide if you should be the guardian to the step-child.

About the Author

Stormy Lee has been writing professionally since 1997. Many of her articles appear online at various websites. Lee specializes in writing education-related articles and has experience in proofreading and writing reviews for schools in Palm Beach County. Lee holds a master's degree in education from Florida Atlantic University.

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