There are times when a minor child’s parents cannot or will not provide them with the level of care and concern they deserve, potentially exposing the child to dangerous circumstances and living arrangements. A minor guardianship may offer an ideal solution if you wish to take on the minor’s role of caretaker and have primary decision-making authority in everyday day-to-day responsibilities.
At The Law Offices of Thomas Stahl, our attorneys have years of experience navigating the often emotionally charged dynamics of minor guardianship proceedings in DC and Maryland. Like you, we believe that a child’s best interests should be the primary focus of their upbringing. Our extensive training in representing these types of cases has benefited many of our clients.
Guardianship and child custody share many similar elements and purposes, but there are several key differences between them. Unlike custodial rights, guardianship only permits an adult to exert legal authority in matters related to the minor’s everyday life decisions. It does not award custody but bestows legal power to act in the child’s best interests.
An advantage of this guardianship is that one does not necessarily have to seek termination of parental rights. This is how grandparents can take care of their grandchildren while the parents are temporarily unable to participate in rearing their children. These actions frequently occur in hopes of relinquishing obtained guardianship rights in the future because of the flexible nature of these orders.
Maryland and DC do allow interested parties in the case to contest petitions for minor guardianship appointments. When this occurs, you can expect to attend a court hearing to provide evidence supporting your petition. At this juncture, if the contesting party received notice of the hearing but has no objection or fails to appear, the court could proceed with ruling on your request.
When you choose to pursue guardianship of a minor, you need to decide if you want to care for the child, their property, or both. For some, this can be a confusing aspect of this process that requires further information and legal advice from a lawyer specializing in this area of law.
Whichever approach you take, once you are responsible for the everyday legal decision-making for the minor, you will need to comply with any requirements made by the court regarding the management of their healthcare, education, and assets. Technically, the child is the court’s ward, and you are acting on the court’s behalf in handling the day-to-day responsibilities.
A previously created estate plan that already designates you as a guardian can help avoid this often emotionally frustrating process in situations where a minor’s parents became incapacitated or pass away.