Guardianship of the Person
What Is a Guardianship?
- A guardianship is set up when a child is living with an adult who is not the child's parent, and the adult needs a court order to care for the child and make decisions on the child's behalf.
- Generally, probate guardianships are for children under 18.
- A guardianship does not end the parental rights of the parents.
- Probate guardianships can be of the person (for the care of the child), of the estate (for the care of the child's finances), or both.
Watch a video giving you an overview of guardianship.
We can only help you with the probate guardianship of the person.
Is a Probate Guardianship Always Necessary?
No. We can give you general information about alternatives to a guardianship so that you decide what is best in your case. Click to read about alternatives to guardianship if you would like to know more before talking to us.
One common alternative that is often enough is a Caregiver's Authorization Affidavit. A caregiver's affidavit lets you enroll a child that's not yours in school. It also lets you authorize medical care of the child related to school. If you're a close relative of the child, you can also make medical care decisions outside of school. The parents do not have to sign the caregiver's affidavit, but they can cancel it at any time. So if you think the parents will not let you care for their child, you may need to go to court to ask to be appointed the guardian.
You will have to file papers in court to ask the judge to appoint you as guardian of a child. Usually, you must file a guardianship case in the county where the child lives. But, if there is a child custody case already with custody orders in another county, you must file the guardianship petition in that same county and court where the custody orders exist.
There are a lot of forms to fill out. Check out our Guardianship Flowchart with all the steps you have to follow, links to forms, and info.
You can use a program to fill out the forms online. This program also allows you to e-file your forms:
Once you fill the forms out and file them, you will get a court date. Many of the child's relatives, like parents, grandparents on both sides, and siblings, will have to be notified. This process can be difficult. Get help from a lawyer or from the Self-Help Center.
Once a guardianship is in place, the guardian or a parent may want to file for other court orders.
A guardian may want to file to change a parent's visitation order. Or for permission to move out of the state with the child. Or they may decide they can no longer take care of the child and want someone else to be appointed the guardian.
If you have any of these situations, contact the Self-Help Center.