MINOR GUARDIANSHIP PROCEEDINGS
*This information is not intended to be legal advice. it is a brief explanation of the basic procedure that is required to obtain a guardian for a minor and is not meant to teach you the law.
Probate Court personnel cannot give you legal advice about your particular situation or complete your forms for you. However, we can tell you what your options are and give you the correct forms to complete.
TYPES OF GUARDIANSHIPS
There are two types of guardianships for minors: Full Guardianship and Limited Guardianship. Only the custodial parent can file a petition for limited guardianship. A petition for full guardianship can be filed by any interested person or by the minor if he/she is 14 years old or older.
For this type of guardianship, one of the following situations must have occurred:
1. If parental rights of one or both parents have been terminated or suspended by the parent’s death, disappearance, or confinement in jail or another place of detention.
2. If a court has suspended or terminated the parent’s rights after finding the parent(s) to be mentally incompetent.
3. If the parents(s) have permitted the minor to reside with another person and have not provided the person with legal authority for the care and maintenance of the minor.
A full guardian has almost the same power and authority as a parent of the minor. A full guardian can make decisions about where the child will live and go to school and what medical procedures are in the child’s best interest. The guardian can give consent to the marriage of the minor, and, with the permission of the court, the full guardian can consent to the adoption of the minor.
You may access the Minor Full Guardianship paperwork here
Only the custodial parent(s) of the minor can file a petition for limited guardianship. The parents, or the parent with legal custody, must sign the petition and voluntarily consent to the guardianship and the suspension of his/her parental rights.
The court must approve a Limited Guardianship Placement Plan agreed to by the parents with custody of the minor, or, in the case of only one parent having custody of the minor, the sole parent who has custody and the person(s) who the court will appoint as limited guardian of the minor. A blank Limited Guardianship Placement Plan is included with the Limited Guardianship Packet and must be submitted to the court at the time the petition is filed.
A limited guardian has the same power and authority as a full guardian except he/she cannot give consent to the marriage or adoption of the minor.
You may access the paperwork to Petition for Minor Limited Guardianship here
PROBATE COURT INVOLVEMENT
The Probate Court will be involved in the appointment of a guardian and will review all minor guardianships at any time the court deems necessary. However, the Probate Court staff persons are not caseworkers. If a caseworker or other services are necessary, you will need to contact other agencies.
HOW TO BECOME A GUARDIAN
To become a guardian, you must first file a petition. These petitions are attached to this page, depending on which type of guardianship you want. There is a $175.00 filing fee that must be paid at the time the petition is filed. A copy of the minor’s birth certificate, the death certificate of either parent (if applicable), the acknowledgement of paternity, and the child support/custody order should be filed if they are available.
The proposed guardian must sign an Acceptance of Appointment prior to the hearing. At the hearing, if the proposed guardianship is granted, the court will issue Letter of Guardianship. These letters prove that a guardian has been appointed and that he/she has authority to act in place of the minor’s parent. One set of letters will be provided to you after the hearing. If you need additional copies, there is an $2.00 fee for standard copies, and $12.00 for certified copies.
RESPONSIBILITY OF A GUARDIAN
As either a full or limited guardian, you must file a report every year for each minor under guardianship in your care. The form for this is the Annual Report of Guardian on Condition of Minor (PC 654). If you move while the guardianship is in effect, you must inform the court of your new address.
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