A guardian is someone who is appointed to be responsible for the care and management of someone who cannot act for himself or herself, whether by reason of being a minor, being incapacitated, being incompetent or for other similar reasons. In the case of minor children, parents are deemed to be the guardians of their minor children unless there is a court order to the contrary. If neither parent is available or capable of meeting these responsibilities, guardianship would fall to “the nearest and eldest relative” who is willing and able to serve in this capacity.
In order to provide formal legal authority to a non-parent guardian, or to seek the appointment of someone—other than the nearest and eldest relative—who is more appropriate to serve in this capacity, an application for guardianship must be made to the court. Further, the guardianship of the person of a minor child will often be considered separately from the guardianship of the assets or property of the minor child, and separate guardians may be appointed for each.
The specific steps required to be appointed as a guardian will vary, depending on the nature of the guardianship sought, the age and needs of the person for whom the guardianship is sought, the relationship of the person seeking the appointment, the consent (or lack thereof) of others who may be affected by the appointment, as well as other relevant considerations. Since each situation is unique, legal counsel can be valuable to assist in determining the nature and extent of a proposed guardianship and to assist in seeking a judicial appointment. Our family law attorneys are experienced in assisting clients with guardianships and can skillfully guide you through the process.