Setting Up a Guardianship for a Child FAQ

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Are a guardian's responsibilities burdensome?

An obvious but important question to ask yourself before you take any steps to establish a guardianship is whether you're truly prepared for the job. To find out, ask yourself these questions:

  • Do you want the ongoing responsibilities of a legal guardianship -- including potential liability for the child's actions?
  • If you'll be managing the child's finances, are you willing to keep careful records, provide a court with periodic accountings, and go to court when you need permission to handle certain financial matters?
  • What kind of personal relationship do you have with the child? Do you want to act as the legal parent of this child for the duration of the guardianship?
  • What kind of relationship do you have with the child's parents? Will they support the guardianship, or will they more likely be hostile, antagonistic, or interfering?
  • Will the guardianship adversely affect you or your family because of your own children, health situation, job, age, or other factors? Do you have the time and energy to raise a child?
  • What is the financial situation? If the child will receive income from Social Security, public assistance programs, welfare, a parent, or the estate of a deceased parent, will this be enough to provide a decent level of support? If not, are you able and willing to spend your own money to raise the child?
  • Do you anticipate problems with the child's relatives -- including parents -- who may suddenly reappear and contest the guardianship? (This is rare, but it can happen.)

It's smart to consider your options carefully before initiating a guardianship proceeding. After honestly answering the questions above, you may need to rethink your plans.

For More Information

To learn more about guardianships, see Nolo's Encyclopedia of Everyday Law: Answers to Your Most Frequently Asked Legal Questions, by Shae Irving and the editors of Nolo (Nolo).

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