Guardianship of a Minor
Guardianship of a minor is the process for granting legal permission to someone, other than a minor's parents, to act in a minor's best interests and make decisions on their behalf. Each state has specific procedures in place for filing a petition for guardianship of a minor and receiving an approval. Below you will find the general process outlined when filing for minor guardianship.
File Your Petition
The first step in filing for minor guardianship is to obtain a Petition for Appointment of Guardian of a Minor from the clerk of the Probate court in the county where the minor lives. If there's no Probate court in that county, you'll need to obtain a Petition from the clerk of the Family or county court.
Upon receipt of the Petition, read your county’s specific instructions carefully and fill out all sections. Make copies of all forms that you file with the court for your records. Fees vary by county and state, but you should expect to pay anywhere from a couple hundred dollars or close to $1,000 when filing your Petition.
If you file your Petition in a Probate court, the court will appoint an investigator to determine whether guardianship is an appropriate solution. The court investigator will meet with the minor and any interested persons before filing a report with the court.
After reviewing your Petition and the investigator's report, a judge will decide whether to set a hearing date. If the judge grants you a hearing, you may need to give notice of the hearing to all interested persons, including the minor child’s parents.
At the hearing, a judge will determine whether it's in the best interest of the minor to appoint you as a guardian. If the judge decides to provide you with minor guardianship, he'll sign an Order containing details of the powers and duties granted to you.
File Your Order
File your Order with the clerk of court. You may be required to pay a bond to insure against any financial losses caused by your misconduct as a guardian. The cost of filing and the bond varies based upon your county. After you have paid your bond, you'll need to take an oath and file it with the clerk. There will be a small fee for this.
Request Letters of Guardianship
Once you've filed the oath, you'll become a qualified guardian and the clerk will issue you Letters of Guardianship. The Letters of Guardianship provide evidence of your appointment and authority to act as the minor child’s guardian. There will be a small fee for each certified copy of the Letters of Guardianship. You will want to file a copy of the Letters with all relevant parties such as at the child’s daycare or school.