Tucson Paralegal Guardianship for Minor Children
In one of my previous articles, I described the process and issues related to establishing guardianship for elderly parents. In this article I will address the process for the establishing the guardianship of minor children. Legal guardianship is only established by court order. Guardianship for minor children in Arizona happens through one of two courts. The proposed guardian must accept an appointment from the court and the guardianship relationship continues until it is terminated by court order.
Most people think of the guardianship process that occurs after the parents have died and named a guardian in their will. There are times when parents die without naming a guardian. In either case, the guardianship process occurs in probate court. The other type of guardianship process occurs when the parent(s) of the minor child are still alive but are unable or unwilling to provide parental control and care. This type of guardianship process only occurs in Juvenile Court after the court has entered a finding of dependency for the minor child. In those cases, the child may have been taken out of the home and be in the foster-care system.
Any person interested in the welfare of a minor child may petition the court for appointment of a guardian. Once the petition has been filed, the court will then set a hearing date. If the child is 14 or older, the child must receive written notice from the person petitioning the court. Written notice should also be given to the person who has primary care and custody of the minor child during the 60 days prior to the date of the petition.
Once the hearing has occurred and the court determines that a qualified person is seeking appointment as the guardian of the child, it is found that the appointment is in the best interests of the child, and all procedural requirements have been met, the court will appoint the guardian. It is also possible that the court will appoint a temporary guardian for not longer than 6 months.
There may be times when the court determines that the interests of the child are not being adequately represented in the guardianship process. In those cases, the court may appoint an attorney to represent the child’s best interests in the guardianship process. If the minor child is 14 or older, the judge will also take into account and consider the preferences of the child with regard to the appointment of an attorney.
When guardianship is established by a will after the child’s parents have died, the appointment of the guardian becomes effective once the guardian’s acceptance is filed in court. When the guardianship is accepted, the guardian must give written notice to the child and to the person currently caring for the child or to the child’s nearest adult relative. A child who is 14 years or older has the right to file a written objection to the appointment of the proposed guardian. This written objection must occur before the appointment of the guardian or within 30 days after the child received notice of the guardian accepting the appointment.
When the court is making a decision about appointing a guardian, the court will make a decision based on the best interests of the minor child. Although Arizona law states some preference for family members as guardians, the best interests of the child take precedence. As a result, sometimes the guardian appointed will be a family member, or it may be another person. If the proposed guardian is someone who is not related to the child, the court will require the potential guardian to furnish a full set of fingerprints in order for the court to conduct a criminal background check, including submitting the fingerprints to the FBI.
Once the guardian is appointed, the court will issue letters of guardianship. The letters establish the rights of the guardian and may be required by school districts or other authorities to establish the guardians right to make decisions for the minor child.
Tucson Paralegal Guardianship Minor – Powers and Responsibilities of the Guardian of a Minor Child
A guardian has the same powers and responsibilities of a custodial parent regarding the minor child’s support, care, and education. There are some differences however. Unlike a parent, the guardian is not personally liable for the child’s expenses and is generally not liable to any 3rd parties for any actions or conduct of the minor child. So there are some differences in the legal liability for parents versus guardians.
It is the responsibility of a guardian to be personally acquainted with the child and maintain enough contact to understand the child’s abilities, needs, limitations, opportunities, and health (both physical and mental). The guardian should also take reasonable care of the child’s personal effects and property. Money of the child should be used for support, care and education of the child. Any excess money is required to be preserved for future needs. There are times when another person has been appointed as conservator for the estate of the minor child. The conservator is responsible for the financial management of the child’s affairs. If there is excess money after the current needs of the child have been taken care of, this money should be given to the conservator for the future.
A guardian is allowed to receive money for the support of the child. The guardian takes physical custody of the child and sets up the home (or residence) for the minor child. The guardian and child can live in or out of state as long as the location of the residence is not in conflict with the terms of the court order. The guardian facilitates the education and social (or other) activities of the minor child. Consent to medical or other professional care, treatment or advice for child falls upon the guardian. The guardian also has the right and responsibility to consent to the marriage or adoption of the minor child.
If the child under guardianship is incapacitated and determined to be unable to conduct their own affairs, any interested person may initiate guardianship proceedings and request that another guardian be appointed when the child turns 18 years old. The child will be evaluated to determine whether or not a guardian is necessary once he or she turns 18.
Tucson Paralegal Guardianship Minor – Resignation or Removal of a Guardian
Any person interested in the welfare of the child can petition for removal of a guardian on the grounds that the removal would be in the best interests of the child. A guardian can also petition for permission to resign. At the time the guardian petitions to resign, the guardian can request the appointment on a new guardian. During the proceeding to remove a guardian, the court can appoint a lawyer to represent the interests of the child.
If you are in need of establishing guardianship for a minor child, Arizona Statewide Paralegal is a Tucson Paralegal or Phoenix Paralegal that offers a flat fee service for preparation of legal documents related to the guardianship minor process. We offer expert case management legal document preparation services, including ensuring the proper forms are completed and filed. We also ensure all parties are properly served so that the process is as smooth as possible. Contact our office today to learn more about establishing guardianship for a minor child.