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When does a minor need a guardianship?

| Mar 26, 2021 | Child Custody Divorce Family Law

Guardianship for a minor child is the sort of thing that many young parents are forced to consider after the birth of their first child. The selection of a guardian for their minor children is an important part of any parent’s estate planning process. It’s done to provide security for the child’s future — just in case the parents someday aren’t there to raise that child to adulthood.

But the death of both parents isn’t the only reason that a minor child may need a guardian.

What situations can cause a minor to need a guardian?

There are many reasons why a child may need a guardian. Obviously, if both parents are deceased, there needs to be someone with the legal ability to make decisions for the child. However, you may find yourself seeking guardianship over a grandchild, niece, nephew, other relative or even someone unrelated to you by birth for a number of reasons:

  • Both parents have been incarcerated and may remain so for a while
  • The parents are physically or mentally unable to care for the child due to illness
  • Both parents have lost their parental rights for any reason, including abuse
  • The child was simply abandoned to your care by the parent or parents
  • Both parents are addicted to drugs or alcohol
  • A previously assigned guardian is no longer fit for the role
  • The parents have been deported or are in immigration detention
  • One parent is missing or unknown and the other meets any of the above criteria
  • There’s a fractured family dynamic and everyone agrees that the child would do better in someone else’s custody

The potential reasons that you could find yourself facing this situation are varied, and every situation is unique.

Why get an attorney involved in a family situation?

While some families may be comfortable with one person or another raising the child regardless of a court order or established guardianship, it’s always a good idea to go through the correct legal steps to obtain that right from a judge. Doing this protects both the minor child’s interests and the interests of their guardian, conferring rights and potential benefits that don’t exist under informal agreements. Working with an experienced attorney is essential.