Zachary A. VanDyke, PA
Panama City Attorney
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How guardianship is granted in courts

Although the parents of a child are the default guardians of a child until the child reaches adulthood, there are certain circumstances that may require that a new guardian be chosen. Guardians are important to minor children, as they serve several purposes not only for a child's nurturing and upbringing, but for several legal responsibilities too.

The guardianship is typically terminated when the child reaches the age of maturity, but there are a few exceptions to that rule. These are: If a court determines that the young person is still in need of supervision; if the minor becomes married; or if the young person dies. The relationship may also be terminated if it can be determined that the guardian is unfit to fill the role. However, in this last case, if the person is still a minor, he or she will need a new guardian.

In order for someone other than a parent to be a guardian, it must be voluntarily granted by the parents or proven that the parents are unable to make legal decisions or provide reasonable care for the minor. This could include a parent who is incarcerated, or one with a proven history of drug or substance abuse or domestic violence. Just as the courts make rulings during divorce proceedings with keeping the best interests of the child in mind, they also do the same for determining guardianship.

A guardian has several responsibilities, including but not limited to providing a legal residence for the child, which will also allow the minor to attend public school. The guardian can also take action on behalf of the minor to seek public assistance benefits or public housing if applicable, and can also begin a lawsuit on behalf of the child. In addition, the guardian is in charge of all money such as inheritance or money required for medical care or education for the child. They will also preserve all money that is not required for the above. The guardian will also make all decisions regarding a child's health and medical decisions as well.

Source: FindLaw, "Guardianship of Minors," accessed on July 11, 2017

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Zachary A. Vandyke, P.A.
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