How to Become a Legal Guardian?
What Is a Guardianship?
Legal guardians are responsible for the safety and overall well-being of a child. While this often involves taking physical custody of said child, guardianship is not adoption—and in cases where the child’s parents are still alive and not deemed unfit, their parental rights stay intact. The court can also end a legal guardianship if the parents become able to resume care for the child.
When becoming a legal guardian, you will be making important decisions for the minor, including education and medical treatment—as well as providing them with their basic needs. Legal guardians are selected by the child’s natural parents appointing them or the interested party petitioning for the appointment. This is different from conservatorship, as a conservator is responsible for managing the finances, estate, and assets of the minor.
Courts tend to prefer when a relative petitions for legal guardianship as opposed to putting the child into the foster system, as research regarding kinship care shows that children raised by a relative have fewer behavioral problems.
4 Common Reasons to Appoint a Legal Guardian:
- The death or long-term illness of one or both parents
- The incarceration of one or both parents
- If the parents’ home is unfit for a child
- One or both parents are battling addiction
While these reasons are the most common, this is by no means a comprehensive list.
The Process of Petitioning for Guardianship in Texas
If the parents have provided a written statement granting you guardianship, the process for becoming the legal guardian is more straightforward. However, if this is not possible, you will need to seek a court order.
The process of gaining a court order for guardianship may look like:
- Filing a petition to name you as guardian.
- Serving a notice of said petition to both parents of the child in question.
- If the parents consent to your guardianship, you will need to obtain copies of the child’s legal documents as well as consent forms. From there, you will need to present these files to the Probate court in the county where the child is living.
- If the parents do not consent to your petition there will need to be additional steps involved, including additional court hearings. Hiring an attorney to help you organize and acquire the paperwork, witness statements, and any evidence needed can help strengthen your case.
- Pass the process presented by The Guardianship Certification Board, which includes tests, submitting fingerprints, and undergoing a background test.
The process of becoming a legal guardian varies from state to state and can be intimidating to navigate on your own. Our knowledgeable attorneys at the Law Firm of Johnson & Gaskill PLLC are here to help answer your questions.
To schedule a consultation with one of our family attorneys, call us at (832) 210-1698.