I am grandparent of a minor. The parents are not in a position to provide good care for the child, so I want to take legal custody of the child, and also to manage the financial affairs. How can I accomplish that?

There are many instances where children have to be taken care of by either grandparents, uncles, aunts, or friends, etc.

The natural parents have primary legal rights on the custody of their children and to make proper decisions for the welfare of the children. In some cases when either one parent or both parents are deceased, or the parents are not in good financial or physical condition to take care of the children, then the court can award the legal custody of the child to a concerned person by the process of guardianship.

The natural parents can nominate a suitable person, either a relative or a friend as the guardian for the minor or minors. That nominee can initiate the process of guardianship. The process is initiated in a court of the state by filing the necessary documents that establish the necessity of the guardianship including a personal data about the minor and the adult. A court investigator will make a report as to the feasibility of the guardianship, by interviewing the adult and investigating the premises where the child will be living, and file the report with the court. The welfare of the child is the primary aspect. The court will order the guardianship, if it is necessary and convenient for the welfare of the child.

There are two types of guardianship. Guardianship for the person/minor and guardianship for the estate of the minor. Guardianship for the person deals with the physical and legal custody issues of the minor. The adult will get the power to decide where the minor will be living, what school the minor will be attending or what medical care has to be provided to the minor, etc. The guardianship of the estate of the minor deals with any financial matters of the child. There are instances when the child inherits money and the child is not legally capable to make proper decision to manage the funds. In some cases a guardian has to be appointed first to release the money from any insurance proceeds meant to be for the child. There can be two people acting in the capacity of the guardian, one for the person and other for the estate.

The guardianship is not a relationship forever. The guardianship terminates when the child reaches 18 years of age; or if the child is unhappy with the guardian, a petition can be filed for termination of the guardianship before the child reaches the age of 18. The guardian’s duty is only to provide necessary care during the guardianship and there is no inheritance power between the guardian and the ward. The guardianship does not prevent the minor from inheriting from natural parents.

Basically guardianship is like a temporary measure to take care of minors till they reach adulthood. Guardianship proceedings protect children from abusive adults and also enable them to lead a life in a better environment. This must be achieved in an amicable manner with only necessary court intervention rather than making it a big custody battle.

See also…

Adoption, guardianships, foster parenting

Family Law Forum