What is Permanent Guardianship of a Child?

What is permanent guardianship of a child? When you obtain permanent guardianship of a child, you are requesting the creation of a permanent legal relationship between you, as the guardian, and the child. There are many U.S. courts that will allow permanent guardianship through the court process if it is deemed in the best interest of the child. 

Once granted permanent guardianship, the new guardian will have the responsibility of providing for the child as a parent would be expected to. This includes providing a safe living environment for the child, and providing health care and education. The guardian will also have the responsibility of making medical and financial decisions on the child’s behalf. 

What Process Is Required to Obtain Permanent Guardianship?

While the process for obtaining permanent guardianship will vary from state to state, there are some basic steps that the process is likely to entail no matter the jurisdiction where guardianship is being filed for. 

  1. You will need to file a petition to obtain legal guardianship of the individual and pay any required fees for the process.
  2. You may need to submit to visits, interviews, or background checks from the court if deemed necessary to determine if the action is in the best interest of the individual. 
  3. After all of the paperwork and interview process is completed, the court will need to approve the request, and you will be responsible for signing an oath to uphold the responsibilities that come along with guardianship. 

Who Can Be Named a Permanent Guardian?

Almost anyone can seek out permanent guardianship as long as they are properly suited to fulfill that role. The court will always side with who is best qualified to meet the individual’s specific needs. If the person has already outlined who should be responsible in the event they are capacitated, the court will usually appoint that person as long as they have the capability to perform that job. In some states, the courts may give more preference to immediate family members such as the spouse, children, or other members of the family close to the person since they are most likely to be familiar with the individual’s current abilities as well as their wishes for how they would like things handled. If neither a friend nor a relative is willing or able to be a guardian, a public or professional guardian may be appointed instead. 

Will a Guardian Receive Compensation?

As a guardian appointed by the court, you can receive some type of compensation for services that are provided. When it is a family member or close friend that is appointed, they will typically not charge compensation. If a public or private guardian is appointed, the compensation will typically be paid by an estate. To ensure that the compensation is fair and reasonable, it will first need to be approved by the court. The court may ask the guardian to provide a careful accounting of all of the services they provide, including the tasks performed, how much time they took, and any out-of-pocket expenses that were incurred.

Do You Need a Lawyer to File for Permanent Guardianship?

While you can petition the court on your own to obtain permanent guardianship, the process can be mentally and financially draining. The paperwork and process can be complicated for those not familiar with the legal world, and there can also be certain situations that come up that you will need to address. Because of this, you can make the process significantly easier, less stressful, and more likely to come to your desired outcome, if you obtain an attorney experienced in the process of obtaining legal guardianship. 

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