Understanding the Complexities of
Guardianship Legal Challenges
Guardianship cases can be emotionally charged, complicated affairs. Whether the application for guardianship pertains to a minor or an incapacitated adult, it is always helpful to have sound, professional legal advice and assistance in order to navigate the many issues that could potentially arise during the guardianship process.
What is Guardianship?
Guardianship, in the legal sense, has been defined as: "A legal relationship created when a person or institution named in a will or assigned by the court [is authorized] to take care of minor children or incompetent adults."
Guardianship is sometimes referred to as "conservatorship."
It should be noted that guardianship differs from adoption. Guardianship does not sever or significantly alter the relationship between a child and his or her biological parents. Instead, guardianship is a legal relationship that gives the guardian certain rights and duties with regard to the child. It is coexistent with the child-parent relationship.
In contrast, adoption permanently changes the legal relationship between a child and his/her biological parents. By the end of the adoption process, the adoptive parents have become the legal parents of the child, and the biological parents have relinquished all rights or obligations towards the child.
Steps to Obtain Legal Guardianship
- First, go to your local court clerk's office and ask for a petition sample for guardianship as well as a standard form for guardianship.
- Take your prospective ward (the minor or incapacitated adult in question) to a doctor for an examination, and obtain a copy of the results.
- Based on the sample petition that you previously received, fill out the standard form for guardianship. Be sure to state why the person needs your guardianship, and what qualifications you have to be his/her guardian. You'll also need to list the relatives of your prospective ward, as well as provide their contact information. Be sure to attach the medical report from the doctor's examination with the form, and sign it with a notary public as your witness.
- Submit your petition to the court clerk's office. At this point, the court will set a date for a hearing.
- Inform all involved parties of the time and place of the hearing. This should definitely include the relatives listed on your submitted form. Also, invite the doctor who conducted the examination to attend as well.
- Finally, attend the hearing. If the court approves you to serve as guardian, you will subsequently be sent a letter of guardianship from the court.
Common Guardianship Concerns
There are several concerns that could arise in relation to a guardianship case. For instance, if you are a grandparent applying for guardianship of a grandchild, then the child's parents could raise objections and create a lot of trouble for both you and the child. Another consideration that the court will take into account is whether your guardianship would result in any profit to you, thus creating a conflict of interest.
In just about any guardianship case, it is wise to enlist the services of an experienced attorney. At East Lake Law Firm, Jordi Zaragoza, PA, specializes in all aspects of family law, including guardianship. If you reside in the St. Lucie County, Fort Pierce, or Okeechobee areas, then reach out to us at East Lake Law Firm today to learn more about the expert guardianship services that we provide.