How to Gain Guardianship of a Child in Mississippi

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Legal guardians physically care for a child and makes decisions about the financial, health and education of a child. In some cases, the guardian also maintains the real property and other assets belonging to the child. The state of Mississippi permits legal guardianship of a child to be transferred from a parent (or current guardian) to a third party where the natural parents (or current legal guardians) are unable to care for a child due to lack of capacity, neglect or abuse. Family members may seek guardianship of a child if the parents are deceased or incarcerated.

Gather information to show that the natural parents of the child are not able to care for the child. You may need to have the help of social services or medical doctors to prove the incapacity of the child's natural parents.

Prepare a petition requesting guardianship of the child. You can request a form of petition for guardianship from the clerk of court in the county in Mississippi where the child resides. The petition must contain information regarding the identity of the child, the child's address, as well as the reasons for which you wish to take guardianship from the natural parents (or current guardians). Reasons you may seek guardianship include incarceration of a parent, long-term absence of parent or death of the parent.

File the petition in the court of the Mississippi county where the child resides, together with the property filing fee. You must also send a copy of the petition to the child's natural parents (or current guardians).

Attend the court hearing. The court will summon you to a hearing, along with the natural parents (or current guardians) of the child. Be prepared to explain why you believe it is in the best interest of the child that you exercise guardianship. In your explanation, demonstrate how you are capable of making decisions regarding the education and health of the child, as well as the financial assets of the child.

Wait for the disposition of the court. The judge will issue the decision in writing. If the judge rules in your favor, he will issue an order giving guardianship of the child to you.

Tips

  • If you expect resistance from the child's natural parents, you may want to suggest temporary guardianship. Temporary guardianship gives custody of the child for a specified time period. After that period elapses, the court may, in its discretion, award permanent custody if the natural parents continue to be incapacitated or otherwise unable to care for the child.

Warnings

  • Mississippi law has a preference to grant guardianship to a natural guardian (parent) or next of kin, unless the applicant is unsuitable to be a guardian.

About the Author

Trudie Longren began writing in 2008 for legal publications, including the "American Journal of Criminal Law." She has served as a classroom teacher and legal writing professor. Longren holds a bachelor's degree in international politics, a Juris Doctor and an LL.M. in human rights. She also speaks Spanish and French.

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