Hanover Guardianship of a Minor Lawyer

If a parent is unable to properly care for their child, a legal guardian could step into a parental role on their behalf. If you wish to care for a minor you care about who is not being cared for properly, a Hanover guardianship of a minor lawyer can help you draft a petition to become a legal guardian. With over 35 combined years of exclusive family law experience, our skilled family law attorneys can work to negotiate a limited guardianship agreement or fight for your rights as a legal guardian.

What Does It Mean to Have Legal Guardianship of a Minor?

The court can appoint an adult other than the child’s parents as the guardian of a minor, giving this person the right to make parental and legal decisions for the child. When you become a legal guardian, you may have decision-making rights related to the child’s:

  • Living arrangements or visitation schedule
  • Education and special schooling
  • Trust funds or other finances
  • Healthcare

It is important to note that becoming a guardian can terminate a parent’s legal right to make decisions for their child – either permanently or temporarily. For example, a grandparent may request healthcare guardianship over their grandchild if the child’s parents refuse to take them to the doctor. This type of limited agreement allows the child to remain living with their parents but transfers legal healthcare rights to their grandparents. A local attorney can help you pursue certain legal guardianship rights of a child depending on your situation.

Who Can Become a Legal Guardian in Hanover?

The probate and family courts hear petitions for guardianship within the Commonwealth. Parties who can apply for legal guardianship of a child include relatives, family friends, or adult siblings.  If there are emergent concerns of abuse or neglect by a parent or guardian, the Department of Children and Families (DCF) can step in and take custody of the children. Guardianships are heard by the Probate and Family Court while DCF Care and Protection cases are decided by the Juvenile Court.

If both the child’s parents – and in some cases, the minor – consent to a guardianship plan, the court may issue a decree without a full hearing. However, when a child over the age of 14 or one of the parents does not agree to guardianship, judges may take a number of steps, including advising each parent to obtain legal counsel, appointing a Guardian Ad Litem to do an investigation into what is best of the child, appoint an ARC Attorney, or hold an evidentiary hearing. The law protects a parent’s ability to care for their child, and a Judge must find that a parent is not fit to care for his or her child before ordering a guardianship. The ability to better provide for a child financially cannot be the only consideration when determining whether a guardianship is appropriate. However, individuals petitioning for guardianship of a child may override a party’s objection by proving parental unfitness with the help of an attorney.

Temporary Versus Permanent Arrangements

The Commonwealth recognizes two types of guardianship – temporary and permanent. Temporary guardianship orders typically last for three months at a time before they are subject to renewal. For example, an adult sibling watching over their younger brother or sister while their parent undergoes addiction treatment could become a temporary guardian. If a parent is facing investigations from DCF, they may also work with a lawyer to prepare temporary guardianship plans during periods of rehabilitation or discuss alternative caregiver arrangements to avoid DCF removing the children from the home and taking custody of them.

Permanent or long-term arrangements typically last until a child turns 18 or until one party petitions to remove or alter the guardianship plan. Situations that may warrant permanent arrangements include situations where immediate reunification does not seem feasible. For example, a grandparent could become a guardian while a parent serves a long-term prison sentence or in the unfortunate situation where both parents have predeceased their child. If the situation that formed the basis of finding the parent to be unfit changes, a parent may petition to modify both temporary and permanent orders of guardianship with the help of a qualified legal professional.

Speak with a Hanover Guardianship of a Minor Attorney

Unlike caregiver arrangements, being appointed as a legal guardian means a parent can be stripped of his or her ability to make decisions for his or her child. Because this decision means significant changes to both your life and that of the child’s, it is important to discuss these matters with a Hanover guardianship of a minor lawyer at O’Connor Family Law. Discuss your options for temporary or long-term guardianship in Massachusetts with a qualified legal professional today.

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