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What does a guardian do?
Typically, a guardian takes care of a child's personal needs, including shelter, education, and medical care. A guardian may also provide financial management for a child's assets, although sometimes a second person (often called a "guardian of the estate") is appointed for this purpose.
A guardianship establishes a legal relationship between a child and an adult who is not the child's parent, but it does not end the legal relationship between the child and/or the child's biological parents.
The biological parents are still legally required to provide financial support for the child. And if a biological parent dies without a will, the child has certain automatic inheritance rights.
How do you establish guardianship of a child?
You can establish guardianship of a child by filing papers in court. Initially, file a petition stating your interest in obtaining guardianship along with a filing fee. You'll also want to file a letter of consent from the child's parents.
Once you've filed your petition, the court will set up interviews with you and possibly the child, the child's parents (if they are available), and anyone else who may have an interest. In some cases, the court may order a home visit or inspection, and a criminal background check of the would-be guardian is usually conducted.
In all matters involving children, courts use a "best interest of the child" standard to make decisions. So, if after reviewing the facts presented, the court finds it is in the best interest of the child, the court will grant you legal guardianship of the child.
If guardianship petition is approved, the judge will give you an order to establish guardianship.
A guardianship ordinarily lasts until the earliest of these events:
Even if a guardianship remains in force, a guardian may step down with permission from the court. In that case, a judge will appoint a replacement guardian if necessary.