Legal guardianship can be subject to legal battles

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Parental rights and privileges are not available to guardians, although they are required to perform many of the same duties as parents.


When a child needs a guardian, one of two methods is usually used. People who make wills (also called “testators”) usually appoint someone, such as next of kin, as guardian in case of incapacity or death before making other arrangements for their welfare.

  • The second option to appoint a guardian is to do so through the courts

A court can appoint a legal guardian to look after the interests of a minor, a teenager, an adult with a developmental disability or any other disabled adult. The ward of the guardian is a person supported by this guardian.

It is possible to appoint a guardian in an emergency scenario, such as when the service may be harmed if no guardian is already in place or when the presence of the guardian is required for a certain period. If both parents are sentenced to prison for a crime, they will not be allowed to care for their children until they are released. To obtain guardianship, lawyers are essential.

The court for the appointment to be formalized and for the boundaries of the guardianship to be created must approve a guardianship agreement or similar instrument. The guardian’s legal obligations should also be clearly defined in this agreement.

If there are current guardians, they must be included in the agreement, along with the ward’s parents and current guardians, if any. The child’s parents are included. In addition, the duration of the guardianship and the emergency circumstances must be included in the document. The last point should explain why the control is necessary and how it can be terminated.

  • Who can be the legal guardian of a minor?

Legal guardianship can be granted to anyone who meets the following criteria:

  • They must be over 18 years old.
  • They must be able to protect the welfare, health, personal and property interests of the service.
  • They must be able to make legal decisions on behalf of the service.

In most states, the age of majority is 18, but this can vary. Anyone can appoint a legal guardian.

Rally before the 37th Annual Capital Pride Parade at Dupont Circle, NW, Washington DC. Photo by Elvert Barnes, via Flickr. CC BY-SA 2.0
  • How is legal guardianship of a child different from physical custody of a child?

Parental rights and privileges are not available to guardians, although they are required to perform many of the same duties as parents. Consequently, the appointment of a tutor does not immediately entail the forfeiture of the child’s parental rights.

Unlike a parent, a guardian can only have temporary physical custody of a child, but has no legal custody of the child in any way. When a guardian adopts a child after the parental rights of the child’s biological parents have been terminated, the guardian may be awarded legal custody in addition to physical possession of the child. Be sure to consult a good lawyer who will guide you through the process.

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