Under the eyes of the law, protecting the well being of a child is a primary priority. A divorce will not be concluded until an agreement on custody issues has been reached. In the event of an emergency, children must be left in the care of a responsible adult. No matter the reason, these events require the drafting of a document stipulating the terms and limits of guardianship. In the case of custody battles or permanent guardianship transfers, the document is a very structured custody agreement. In the case of temporary guardianship arrangements, a brief letter will usually suffice.
Come to an agreement on custody or guardianship terms. Making an arrangement beforehand will speed up the process of filing forms and drafting a proper document. While parties contesting custody or suing for emergency guardianship will be unable to come to such an agreement, they may still attempt to define their own position. Collecting evidence of financial stability and responsible behavior, such as custody reference letters, will strengthen a custody claim during trial.
Obtain the appropriate paperwork. During divorce proceedings, the presiding judge or mediator will provide the parties with appropriate paperwork. If parties choose to come to a custody agreement on their own, they can contact their county court clerk to obtain any applicable forms and state-specific filing requirements. In cases of temporary guardianship, a letter may suffice as discussed below. Parties unsure of their state requirements for guardianship should contact their local family court clerk for further assistance.
Complete the forms. In the case of custody agreements, parents will specify the conditions of custody as stipulated by state laws. Generally, a custody agreement will include details as to shared or sole custody, visitation agreements, the child's education and medical arrangements, the child's religious upbringing and consent requirements for making serious legal decisions. A guardianship letter on the other hand, will identify the parent, child and named guardian, specify a period of time for guardianship, assert the rights of guardianship and identify the financial responsibilities of both parent and guardian.
Sign and notarize the document if necessary. Custody agreements will be filed with the presiding court while guardianship letters may be kept by the designated guardian or filed with the parties' attorneys.
A custody agreement may be signed at any stage of a divorce proceeding, even if other aspects of the divorce are still contested
Guardianship letters can be dated to start upon the parent's death as a means of insuring that the child is cared for by a person selected by his parent.