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What Is A guardianship?

  • By: Lorilee Desantis
  • Published: August 21, 2020

When a child’s parents are unable or unwilling to properly care for a child, another adult may seek to become a child’s legal guardian which requires appointment by the court. The guardian is required to assume important duties and obligations. For example, the guardian:

  • Has the care, custody, and control of the child
  • Is also responsible for providing food, clothing, shelter, education, and all medical and dental needs of the child
  • Must provide for the child’s safety, protection, physical growth, and emotional growth

A guardian has the full legal and physical custody of the child and is responsible for all decisions related to the child. The child’s parents can no longer make decisions for the child while there is a guardianship. The parents’ rights are suspended – not terminated – as long as a guardian is appointed for a minor. Even when the child has a guardian, the parents are still obligated to financially support the child. The guardian may take action to obtain child support.

A guardianship of the person automatically ends when the child reaches the age of 18, is adopted, marries, is emancipated by court order, enters into active military duty, or dies. If none of these events has occurred, the child, a parent, or the guardian may petition the court to terminate the guardianship. However, it must be shown that the guardianship is no longer necessary or that termination of the guardianship is in the child’s best interest.

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