Alabama Law on Guardianship of a Minor

By Stephanie Reid
Alabama law provides that a fit and competent adult can serve as a guardian.

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Title 26 of the Alabama Code provides statutory information relevant to the appointment of a guardian for a minor. In Alabama, a minor reaches the age of majority by turning 19. For minors without biological or adoptive parents to care for them, the court can appoint a competent and fit adult to care for the child both physically and financially. A guardianship hearing will be held and a judge will determine whether the proposed guardian is a good candidate; and the guardianship arrangement will be in the child's best interests.

Methods to Becoming a Guardian

Under Section 26-2A-70, a person can be appointed guardian either by the child's biological or adoptive parents, or by judicial appointment. In the former, the parents would name the guardian in a will and, upon their death, the guardian would take over caring for the child and no court hearing would be necessary. In a situation involving parental neglect or children who have been removed from their parent's care, a guardianship hearing will be required, assuming a third party has stepped forward to fill the guardianship role in the parent's absence.

Conditions for Court Appointment

Section 26-7A-73 lists the requirements and conditions for court appointment of a guardian. First, all parental rights must be terminated or suspended for a guardian to step in. Any guardian appointed by the parents has priority over another party seeking guardianship: But the court may consider all interested parties before making a decision. The court may also appoint a temporary guardian who will serve in the guardianship capacity no longer than 6 months, before the court can locate an appropriate guardian willing to serve.

Procedure for Court Appointment of Minor

In order to begin the process for court appointment of a minor, one party must petition the court for guardianship. The petition can be filed by any person interested in the welfare of the child. After a petition is filed, the court will set a date for the hearing and all interested parties will be notified. Interested parties include the minor (if 14 or older), the minor's parents and any person caring for the minor for at least 60 days prior to the hearing. At the hearing, the judge will conclude whether the party named in the petition will adequately serve the best interests of the child.

Termination of Appointment

The court is concerned primarily with the best interests of the child. If the guardianship relationship begins to deteriorate or substantial changes take place, the court can terminate the guardianship arrangement. Termination can take place upon the death of the guardian or child, resignation of the guardian or removal of the guardian upon the minor's adoption or marriage. Resignation is not final until it has been approved by the court.

About the Author

Stephanie Reid has been writing professionally since 2007, with work published in the Virginia Bar Association's "Family Law Quarterly" and the "Whittier Journal of Child and Family Advocacy." She received her Juris Doctor from Regent University and her Bachelor of Arts in French and child development from Florida State University. Reid is admitted to practice law in Delaware and Maryland.

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