Greenlight Family Services provides guardianship services to caregivers who are seeking custody of a child that lives in their care. Greenlight attorneys are respectful of the emotional and urgent circumstances sometimes leading caregivers to file for guardianship. Services are individualized to fit the needs of each unique family that contacts Greenlight.
Is guardianship permanent?
No. Guardianship may be long term in some cases, but it is not permanent. In the case of adult guardianship, it has to be renewed every year through the submission of an annual report to the court. Failure to submit the annual report may result in the court requiring the guardian to appear in court. Guardianship of a minor can last until the child legally becomes an adult at the age of 18. Even if the guardian and the child develop a strong bond, there will be no legal connection between them past the age of adulthood. Guardianship does not have to last until the child turns 18. Sometimes the guardian may decide to willingly vacate their guardianship in court, at which point custody is returned to the legal parents (unless parental rights were previously terminated). Other times, the legal parents may file in court to have the child returned home.
Does a caregiver need to go to court for adult guardianship if the caregiver obtained guardianship when the child was a minor?
Yes, if the child has special needs or is disabled. Guardianship of a minor lasts until the child turns 18. At that age, the child legally becomes an adult and no longer needs a guardian unless the child has special needs that makes them unable to care for themselves. If a medical professional diagnoses the child with cognitive, behavioral, or medical disabilities that necessitate a court appointed adult guardian, the caregiver must file for guardianship even if they previously did so when the child was a minor.
What are birth parental rights after guardianship?
The legal parents retain the privilege of reasonable visitation, consent to adoption, determining a child’s religious affiliation, making burial plans if the child passes away, and the responsibility for support. The residual parental rights of a parent can be terminated by a court by separate petition. A court can terminate residual parental rights of one parent without affecting the rights of the other parent. The residual responsibility for support ensures that the guardian can reasonably expect the legal parent to provide child support, and can file for child support in court.
Why does adult guardianship have to be reported annually to the court?
Adult guardianship is designed to protect the interest of incapacitated adults; adults who are disabled, are mentally ill, or who have special needs. Greenlight legal services represents caregivers in the court process that enables the guardian to make financial, medical, and legal decisions for the incapacitated adult, and simultaneously deprives the incapacitated adult of many of their rights in order to protect their well-being. The incapacitated adult will no longer have certain privileges that are given to other adults, such as the right to vote or to obtain a driver’s license. Due to the seriousness of the loss of individual rights, adult guardianship requires proof from a medical professional that it is in the best interest of the incapacitated adult for the guardianship to be granted. An annual report must be submitted to the court by the guardian in order to show that the incapacitated adult has not regained capacity and continues to need care. The annual report also provides the guardian with a way to indicate to the court that guardianship is no longer needed either because the incapacitated adult is deceased or because the individual has regained capacity and should have their rights restored, so they can and manage their own lives.