how to get guardianship without a lawyer

by Kimberly Bogan 6 min read

In order to become a guardian, you must file papers with the court and go through a number of steps leading up to a court hearing. In general, you do not have to have a lawyer. But it takes quite a bit of time and energy to fill out your court forms and to "give notice" to all relatives.

Who Can Be A Legal Guardian?

A legal guardian can be anyone over the age of majority (18-21 depending on the state) who is capable of taking care of the child’s needs, includin...

How Can I Establish Legal Guardianship of A Child?

You can establish legal guardianship of a child by filing a petition stating your interest in obtaining guardianship along with a filing fee. Once...

What Are The Differences Between Legal Guardianship and Child Custody?

While child custody provides rights and responsibilities to the parent of the child, a legal guardianship provides similar rights to someone that i...

What Are The Differences Between Legal Guardianship and An Adoption?

Both guardianship and adoption create legal relationships between a child and an adult that give the adult certain rights and obligations regarding...

What If A Parent Already Has Custody of The Child?

If a parent has legal custody of a child, a court usually will not intervene and appoint a legal guardian. It is the practice of courts not to inte...

How Does Guardianship End?

There are several ways that legal guardianship can end: 1. The child dies 2. The child reaches the age of 18 3. A judge decides that the guardiansh...

Do I Need A Lawyer For Legal Guardianship Issues?

The laws governing legal guardianship can often be complex, especially if child custody issues are also involved. If you have any legal concerns in...

What Does It Mean to Be A Legal Guardian of someone?

A legal guardian is a person or agency that is legally authorized to act on behalf of a minor or an incapacitated adult to assure that the person’s...

Legal Guardianship For The Elderly Or Disabled

One of the questions we are most frequently asked is “Why do I need to establish a guardianship? Isn’t having power of attorney enough?”.In short,...

How Do I Establish Legal Guardianship in The State of New Jersey?

The New Jersey Bureau of Guardianship Services, deals with issues of legal guardianship in the state. Individuals may apply for guardianship themse...

Hire Frank Campisano to Help You Navigate A Legal Guardianship in New Jersey

This discussion only touches on some of the many scenarios that may be driving you to seek legal guardianship of someone. In general these situatio...

What is a guardian over a minor?

Guardianship over minor children is the l egal grant of limited rights and obligations for the children's care and support. It does not necessarily involve terminating the rights of the parents (although it may). Guardianship grants a caregiver the formal and legal right to provide for the child’s basic needs, including shelter, food, clothing and education. The child’s guardian and grandparent thereafter has the authority to make decisions about the child’s life and future, including medical decisions.

How long does guardianship last?

In other cases, the guardianship may last until the child reaches the age of majority (typically 18 years old). If the child has extensive medical or other needs due to incapacity or illness, the court may authorize the guardianship beyond the child’s 18th birthday.

Where does Annie Sisk live?

Annie Sisk is a freelance writer who lives in upstate New York. She holds a B.A. in Speech from Catawba College and a J.D. from USC. She has written extensively for publications and websites in the business, management and legal fields.

Can a grandparent file for custody of a grandchild?

Reasons Grandparents Can File for Custody of Grandchild. In cases of abuse , neglect or dangerous home conditions where the safety and well-being of minor children are at risk , state agencies may seek to have the children removed from the home and the care of the parents. In those cases, both courts and social workers prefer to place ...

What happens if a parent refuses to give custody of a child?

If the parents refuse to transfer legal custody of their children to a grandparent on a voluntary basis, the grandparent seeking guardianship will need to pursue the matter legally. Before filing for guardianship, it’s a good idea to spend some time gathering evidence and conducting research to prepare the case.

Can grandparents sign over custody of children?

Interested grandparents may be able to take action in the children’s best interests before the involvement of child protective services officials by contacting the child's parents to discuss voluntarily signing over custody of the child or children to the grandparent. In some cases, parents realize the negative impact of certain circumstances on ...

What documents are needed for a child custody case?

Documents you'll likely need include: 1 Proof of paternity or legal parentage 7 2 Child's birth certificate 3 Any existing orders related to the child

What does "pro se" mean in legal terms?

Pro se is Latin for "on one's own behalf.". In legal terms, filing for child custody "pro se" means filing on behalf of yourself without the help of a lawyer. 1 Between 2000 and 2019, 25% of civil cases in the U.S. were filed pro se. 2. There are benefits and downsides to filing pro se. For parents who want to file for child custody ...

How to file for child custody pro se?

Filing for child custody pro se requires research and planning. Parents who head into court solo should be prepared to pay close attention to detail, maintain meticulous paperwork, and understand the laws related to their case. Consider your bandwidth as you evaluate whether going through this process without the assistance of a lawyer is right for you.

What is legal aid?

Legal aid organizations offer free legal advice and representation to low-income individuals. 3 They can be a great resource and may be able to give you further direction before going to court. If you decide to go ahead with representing yourself, give careful thought to all of your child custody options.

How to file pro se in a child's court?

Begin by contacting the family court clerk to obtain the proper paperwork. Typically, the court with which you must file will be located in the county where your child has lived for the past six months. 6 Be sure to inform the clerk that you are filing pro se so that you access the correct forms.

What is the relationship between a child and a parent?

The living accommodations a parent is able to provide. The relationship between a child and a parent. This is tedious, time-consuming work, but understanding the child custody laws in your state will have a huge impact on your ability to represent yourself well.

How to file for custody without a lawyer?

You may face some setbacks along the way. Contact your local legal aid organization for support and referrals to resources. Be open to reassessing your decision to work without a lawyer.

What is legal guardianship?

What Is a Legal Guardianship? In a family law setting, a legal guardianship can be described as a special type of legal arrangement wherein an adult agrees to assume legal responsibility for a minor who is unable to take care of themselves. The adult party in a legal guardianship is known as the “legal guardian”, ...

What happens after an adoption?

After the adoption process is complete, the adoptive parents will then be considered the child’s legal parents in the eyes of the law. This means that the adoptive parents will now have the right to make decisions over how they wish to raise the child.

What is a child custody case?

Child custody cases can also be used to obtain court approval of a child custody arrangement, to make a child custody agreement enforceable, and to modify the amount of child support that a parent is required to pay each month . Unlike most child custody cases, legal guardianship matters will not stem directly from a divorce, ...

How old do you have to be to be a guardian of a child?

As long as an individual has reached the legal age of majority in their state, which is usually around 18 years of age, they can be appointed as a child’s legal guardian. The individual must also be able to provide proper care for the child as well as have the capacity to make legal decisions on the child’s behalf.

Who is considered a legal guardian?

Generally speaking, most legal guardians are usually persons who are either close family members and/or friends of the ward or the ward’s parents. In cases where a court is forced to choose an unrelated person, they will often select someone who has been recommended by a state child welfare program.

Can a guardian be a permanent guardian?

Depending on the circumstances, a guardian may be granted temporary, permanent, physical, or legal guardianship over a child. Finally, it should be noted that each state has separate laws and procedural requirements concerning how to establish a valid legal guardianship. Thus, even if you use the standard court forms to create a legal guardianship ...

What happens to a child when they are adopted?

Once a child gets adopted, the biological parents must give up all of their parental rights and obligations to the child.

What is the role of a guardian?

The duties of a guardian also include making decisions on behalf of the individual and giving informed consent in certain matters. However, the guardian is required to involve the person in decision-making to the extent that his or her abilities permit.

What is limited guardianship?

Limited Guardianship – covers decision-making around residential, educational, medical, legal, vocational, and financial issues. Appropriate for people who have been found capable of making and expressing some, but not all, decisions.

How to Open an Adult Guardianship Case

If you want to be the guardian over an adult, there are many forms you must fill out to open a case. The forms tell the judge about you, anyone who wants to be a co-guardian with you, the person you want to be the guardian over, and why the guardianship is needed.

Serving the Adult and the Relatives

When you file to be a guardian, you have to “serve” a copy of the Petition and the Citation on the adult, many of the adult's relatives, and possibly some other agencies. The court does not serve these documents for you; you have to make sure they are properly served.

The Adult Guardianship Hearing

After filing and serving the guardianship papers, the proposed guardians and the adult over whom the guardianship is requested must appear at a hearing in front of a judge. The judge will then decide whether to grant the guardianship.

After the Adult Guardianship Hearing

After you are appointed the guardian, there are several more forms that you must file with the court. Some forms are required immediately, and some will be filed in the future. Read on for information about what must be filed and when.

What is the duty of a GAL?

The GAL has a fiduciary duty to the court to investigate the facts and circumstances of the individual as well as the assertions contained in the petition. The GAL is required to personally visit the allegedly incapacitated individual and file a written report with the probate court at least 2-days prior to the hearing setting forth recommendations ...

How long does it take to get a Guardian Ad Litem?

After the petition for guardianship is filed with a notice of hearing scheduling the matter for an open-court hearing (a minimum of 14-days from the day the petition is filed), the court will appoint a Guardian Ad Litem (GAL) who acts as the "eyes-and-ears" of the court.

What is the best resource for a guardian in Michigan?

One of the best resources a guardian can utilize is the website of the Michigan Guardianship Association. The MGA site has a variety of useful links and other resources to assist a guardian with locating service providers and other items of interest to individuals with the responsibility over another adult.

What is a child custody agreement?

A child custody agreement is a type of written document that clarifies the guidelines for child custody between the parents. These guidelines typically include:

What is child custody?

The term child custody refers to the guardianship rights granted to a parent. It is used to describe the legal and decision making relationship between the custodial parent and the child. When determining child custody rights, the court will consider a number of factors, but first and foremost they will consider the child’s best interests.

What is a parenting plan?

A parenting plan is a type of agreement between parents that details the schedule, duties, and responsibilities of each parent in relation to their child.

What is a third party mediator?

The third party, known as a mediator, promotes reconciliation, compromise, or settlement. Mediators will work between the two parents, as well as their attorneys, in order to help them come to an agreement regarding child custody and a parenting plan.

Why is mediation important?

The mediation option keeps court involvement in the process to a minimum, which decreases costs. Additionally, mediation typically lasts a shorter amount of time than a trial, and is incredibly useful in cases that are particularly sensitive or personal.

What is guardianship in disability?

Guardianship of Incapacitated or Disabled Persons. A guardianship is a crucial legal tool that allows one person or entity to make decisions for another (the ward ). Courts are tasked with establishing guardianships, and they typically appoint guardians in instances of incapacity or disability.

How old do you have to be to be a guardian?

State qualifications differ, but in general, to be qualified, a guardian must be a legal adult (18 years of age) and cannot have a felony or gross misdemeanor record implicating dishonesty (forgery, bribery, etc.).

What is mental disability?

Mental and physical disability or incapacity can involve severe and long-term conditions that impose great limitations upon an individual's ability to take care of themselves, express themselves verbally, earn a living, and live independently of the care of others.