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Posted by: Maricopa Lawyers on Mar 16, 2016

There are many situations in which you may want to gain guardianship of a child. Although it is a huge responsibility, you may decide that it’s best if you take legal guardianship of a child, such as a grandchild, and make decisions on the child’s behalf. Here’s what it means to be a legal guardian and how the process works.

What is Legal Guardianship?

When you become a legal guardian, you take over the day-to-day decision making and control of the child from the child’s parents under a court order. A legal guardian takes over the care and upbringing of the child and makes all parenting decisions. The guardian can:

  • request and accept medical treatment on a child’s behalf
  • enroll the child in school
  • provide for the child’s general welfare

Whether or not you’re financially responsible for the child depends on the circumstances. If the biological parents are still alive and still have rights to the child, then they are financially responsible for the child. If they’ve lost their parental rights, then they are not required to financially support the child. In this case, the legal guardian can seek financial assistance.

The process for obtaining legal guardianship of a child includes:

  • Filing the Petition for Appointment of Guardian of Minor.
  • Filing the Child Custody Affidavit.
  • If necessary, filing the Affidavit of Petitioner for Appointment of Guardian of Minor Alleging Intolerable Living Situation.
  • If required by the court, filing the Acceptance of Guardianship Form with the Petition.
  • If the child is, or will be receiving public assistance, filing a Statement Concerning Public Assistance form.

How a Family Lawyer Can Help

In general, guardianship of a child is only granted if the parents of the child consent to the transfer of guardianship, the parents have abandoned the child or have had their rights as parents terminated, or if a judge finds the best interests of the child are to remove the child from the parents’ custody. In certain situations, you can gain guardianship even if the parents object, but you must be able to prove that the parents are unfit. This is where an experienced family attorney can help you.