Guardianship is a legal standing that allows an individual to care for a minor or dependent person. It makes provision for the guardian to make decisions on behalf of the child and is granted by the court system. Laws concerning guardianship vary from state to state. In most cases, however, you will need to file a petition with the court to obtain guardianship.

Many individuals wish to file their own paperwork, saving time and expenses by handling their own guardianship claim. Due to the complex nature of most guardianship cases, this is not always advisable.

What if I was a designated guardian?

In some cases, parents make official arrangements for the care of their child(ren) in the event of their death or incapacitation. If they have put their childcare wishes in writing, it may be possible to obtain custodial guardianship without the need for an attorney. If you are concerned the court will question your fitness based on your specific circumstances (such as age, financial standing or health), you should engage the services of an attorney.

What if I am involved in a dependency case?

Children who have been abandoned, abused, or neglected may be removed from their custodial parents. The court may seek a family member with whom they can place the children. Due to the circumstances of the situation, the court may have higher standards than with regular custodial proceedings. In this event, it would be best to hire an attorney to handle any unforeseen developments.

What if someone asked me to take guardianship?

Often, parents realize they are not able to care for the needs of their child. To ensure the child is cared for, they set up a voluntary guardianship, often designating their own parents as the guardian. This written documentation outlines their wishes for the child to be cared for by the named individual. The guardianship may be temporary or permanent. Both parents must authorize this voluntary guardianship. If one parent refuses to sign the order, the guardian must go to court. To navigate the legal process involved in a voluntary guardianship, it would be best to hire an attorney.

What if my guardianship is contested?

In some circumstances, a family member may contest the fitness of a guardian to care for the child. The contesting party may be other relatives such as aunts or uncles, an estranged biological parent, or other grandparents. Regardless of the validity of their claim, it will be necessary for you to go to court to fight for guardianship. A lawyer is recommended to assist you in your case. Nonprofit legal aid organizations may be able to help you at a reduced cost if you are unable to afford representation.

Who should file for guardianship without the help of a lawyer?

In very select cases, it is possible to handle your own petition for guardianship. If the guardianship claim is uncontested and there are no extenuating circumstances, you could file on your own. If you have time available to handle the documentation and footwork necessary, you may be able to handle the paperwork your claim requires. For the individual who may want help with the documentation, you may wish to retain an attorney just to complete the paperwork. They would assist you with your filings and supporting documents, but you would handle any court appearances as needed.

Why hiring a lawyer is the best option.

Guardianship claims are fraught with emotion, confusion and detail. The courts attempt to safeguard the rights of the child, while being true to the wishes (if any) of the birth parents. It is a delicate balance and sometimes, the rights of the guardian can get trampled. To help the process go smoother with less services available, hiring a lawyer is strongly recommended.

Lawyers are specifically trained to understand complex guardianship laws. They understand the legal process and can ensure that all documentation is handled appropriately. They can make recommendations that may appease both parties involved and can speak to the court on your behalf. While most guardianship cases involve a judge and lawyers, they are typically an informal event. The courtroom may be ‘closed’ to protect the privacy of a minor child, and the lawyers generally sit at the tables in the front of the room. You, or your attorney, may be asked a series of questions designed to ascertain the best resolution for the child. Witnesses may or may not be called to support one or the other’s petition.

What does the Law Offices of Brian Hill (972) 474-0104 offer?

At the law offices of Brian Hill, we specialize in putting the needs of our client first. With years of experience and a proven track record of success, Brian Hill help you navigate the waters of the judicial system. Whether you are trying to obtain guardianship or have a contested claim to guardianship, let us help you protect your interests, and that of your dependent.