Kansas law governs guardianship of both children and adults. Grandparents and other caregivers of minor children may seek temporary parenting-decision rights through several legal options provided by state law, such as durable power-of-attorney, standby guardianship and legal guardianship. Kansas guardianship law also includes a temporary option as part of pending guardianship proceedings for an adult. A Kansas attorney may be able to provide specific guidance regarding the appropriate type of temporary guardianship.
Durable Power-of-Attorney for Parental Rights
A child's parents can temporarily give legal rights to a grandparent or another relative caring for the child through signature of a durable power-of-attorney form. Kansas law permits the parents to give selected rights, such as a right to make health-related or schooling-related decisions, to a grandparent or other caregiver. The durable power-of-attorney may last for a designated temporary period, or end at any time chosen by the parents, up until the child reaches the age of 18. Parents who need temporary assistance with caregiving responsibilities may use a durable power-of-attorney form; in doing so, they may retain their legal rights to custody of the child and avoid a formal guardianship arrangement.
Standby Guardianship of Children
Grandparents or other family members providing care for a child may pursue a standby guardianship if they need to temporarily assume legal rights without the cooperation of the child's parents. To obtain a standby guardianship, the grandparent or relative must file a petition with the local Kansas court and explain how an emergency or other temporary circumstances threatening the child's safety require an immediate conferral of legal rights. If the court grants the petition, the child's caregiver will have legal rights to make parenting decisions regarding the child's life; these rights may involve making medical decisions for the child or interacting with the child's school, among other duties.
Legal Guardianship of Children
Grandparents or other relatives caring for children also can seek legal guardianship from a Kansas court. If granted, the legal guardian has the same custodial rights and obligations as those held by parents. While a legal guardianship may become a long-term custodial solution for a child, it remains temporary in that the court does not permanently terminate the rights of the child's parents when granting the arrangement. Accordingly, the child's parent may be able to ask the court to terminate the guardianship if the parent wishes to regain custody of the child. A legal guardianship may be voluntary if the child's parents agree, but also involuntary without parental approval if ordered by the court.
Temporary Guardianship of Adults
Kansas law includes provisions for temporary guardianship of adults who lack the capacity to make their own legal decisions or even to care for themselves. To obtain a temporary guardianship from a probate court in Kansas, the proposed ward of the guardianship, or any other interested party, may file a petition during pending proceedings for a regular guardianship. The court may only approve the temporary guardianship if the petitioner can show emergency circumstances, such as imminent physical harm to the proposed ward of the guardianship, without appointment of a temporary guardian. Otherwise, the judge will not approve a guardianship until completion of regular proceedings in the probate court.
- Children's Advocacy Resource Center, Kansas Legal Services: Grandparents Raising Grandchildren
- Kansas: A State Fact Sheet for Grandparents and Other Relatives Raising Children; AARP, et al.; July 2006
- Grandparent's Rights; Kansas Legal Services; 2008
- Kansas Department of Social and Rehabilitation Services: Kansas Economic and Employment Support Manual: 12600 Guardianship and Conservatorship Services
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