Table of Contents:
- How to Get Guardianship of a Child in South Carolina
- How to Get Guardianship in Florida
- How to Get Guardianship in Iowa
- How to Get Guardianship of a Child in Michigan
Seek the advice of an attorney. Although not everyone goes through an attorney to file for guardianship, it may be the best option since they have the most up-to-date knowledge of South Carolina law. Fees may be charged for a consultation, but you are under no obligation to hire the attorney to take your case to court.
File a petition with the state for guardianship of the child in question. This is the most important step and it begins the process of gaining guardianship. Without the petition, South Carolina will not legally recognize you as the child's guardian. The petition must contain pertinent information regarding yourself, your relationship to the child (if any), what makes you a fit guardian and personal information, such as your Social Security number.
Prove to the state court that the parent (or parents) is unfit to care for the child. Whether the child's parents are going through a divorce, are still together or there is only one parent is inconsequential. If the parent(s) is unfit and you are filing a petition for guardianship, that fact must be proven. Typically, the court will order supervision of the parent(s) with the child to witness the interaction and how it impacts the child. A background investigation may also be conducted to ensure the issues brought up by the petitioner are correct.
Prove to the court that you are a fit guardian for the child. Most guardianships are temporary, and the specific length of guardianship is established by the court. Sometimes courts may supervise temporary guardians to ensure the well-being of the child. This means that if you want to remain guardian of the child, you must prove to the court that you will do anything in your power to make sure the child is in good hands.
Evaluate whether you qualify for guardianship. To qualify as a guardian in Florida, you must be age 18 or older, physically and mentally capable, and a resident of Florida. If you are not a resident of Florida, you may still qualify if you are a relative of the ward by blood, adoption or law.
Fill in the Appointment of Guardian application form with a black pen. Pay close attention to the details required.
File the Appointment of Guardian application form at the court. Within five days from the date of filing, the court will appoint an examining committee and a lawyer for the proposed ward. The examining committee will investigate and submit findings to the court within 15 days.
Attend the hearing, which will be within 14 days from the time the examining committee submits its report to the court. During the hearing, the court will review the report of the examining committee and will evaluate if the proposed ward requires a guardian.
Secure letters of guardianship. If the court finds that the proposed ward needs a guardian and the petitioner is capable of fulfilling that role, the court will issue letters of guardianship to the petitioner. The letters of guardianship will determine the extent of responsibility of the guardian to the ward.
Determine the individual is incompetent and incapable of making sound decisions concerning his health, well-being and finances. Medical records can offer the proof of incompetence the court requires in order to begin the filing process. The exception is in proceedings involving children.
Consult an attorney to find out if representation is needed. Petitioners are not required to hire attorneys, however the need might arise if there is a considerable amount of estate or financial planning involved.
File a "Petition for Appointment of a Guardianship or Conservatory" form with the court located in the current Iowa county of residence for the person needing guardianship. The form is considered a legal document and facts must be presented as to why the guardianship is needed.
Pay the petition filing fee. The filing fees in Iowa vary by county. The ward or the ward's estate is responsible for paying court costs associated with filing the guardianship petition.
Request a fee waiver from the court if funds are not available. Proof of financial hardship will have to be provided in order to have the fees waived. When funds are available, the ward is required to pay the filing fee immediately.
Provide the ward with a copy of the filed petition and a notice stating they have 20 days to file an answer to the petition before a hearing is scheduled. The ward is allowed to appear at all court hearings and defend his rights.
Attend the hearing to present your case in front of a judge. Witnesses can be called to support the petitioner’s guardianship request. Iowa guardianship cases are normally decided without a jury.
Wait for the court to issue a written order concerning the petition. If the guardianship is approved, further instructions will be given by the court. If the petition is denied, the case is dismissed.
Receive and sign letters of appointment from the court agreeing to the duties given. These letters will be proof of the guardian’s rights to make decisions on behalf of the ward. An annual report of has to be filed giving updated information about the ward to the court.
Complete a Petition for Appointment of Guardian of a Minor form and file by mail or in person with your county court. This petition may be filed by anyone who is not a parent of the child. This form requires information about you, the child, and any other parties, such as parents, involved in the case. You will also need to give background information regarding the child's circumstances and the reason for the guardianship request.
With the petition, file a Minor Guardianship Social History. This provides information about prior parents, guardians, and domestic situations, such as domestic violence, substance abuse, or mental health issues within the home.
There is a $150.00 fee to file this petition as of January 2011.
Call or visit the court to schedule a hearing. If you submitted your paperwork by mail, allow two to three days in processing time before you call.
Serve any other parties involved in the case with the Petition for Appointment of Guardian of a Minor and Notice of Hearing. Interested parties who must be served may include the child's parents, the child, if 14 years or older, a current or nominated guardian, or any state agencies currently providing support to the child. All parties must be served at least 14 days prior to the hearing if served by mail or 7 days prior to the hearing if served in person. Complete the proof of service form and file with the court. If you don't know how to contact a party involved, you must make every effort, including searching the phone book and contacting friends and relatives.
Attend the hearing and give testimony regarding the child's situation and the need for guardianship.
At the hearing, you will need to submit an Order Regarding Appointment of Guardian of a Minor; Acceptance of Appointment signed by the nominated guardian; and Letters of Guardianship, which certify the guardianship situation to interested parties, such as schools, doctors and insurance offices.
At the end of the hearing, the judge will make a ruling regarding guardianship.