Being named as the guardian of a minor child is one of the highest honors many people will ever know. At the same time, the role comes with great responsibility. Especially in the case of a loved one’s passing or incapacitation, it’s understandable that you may be experiencing mixed emotions as you contemplate the immediate future.
If you’ve been named as a guardian (or have been approached as a possibility), it’s important to gain at least a basic understanding of what this role entails. When you begin the process early on, the likelihood of surprises or uncertainty are greatly lessened. Use these suggestions to better recognize and embrace all that is involved with guardianship.
1) Know Your Role
In most cases, biological parents are the natural guardians of minor children. This remains true even in the case of divorce. However, when both parents die (or the primary parent becomes unable to perform parental duties), alternate care arrangements must be made for these children. If no guardian is named, children could end up in state care. In other cases, a probate judge could appoint an appropriate legal guardian.
When you have questions or concerns about guardianship and other family law matters, it’s nice to know that Daytona Beach family law attorney is on hand to provide valuable insight and assistance.
2) Understand the Responsibility
As a named guardian, you are responsible for the general well-being of the minor child or children for whom you’ve been entrusted to care. This responsibility includes making decision about education, medical treatment, and general welfare considerations. Often, parents will choose guardians who share their moral and religious beliefs. Other times, parents will stipulate that minor children be raised according to specific religious or value-based beliefs.
It’s important to realize that this is a major undertaking that will (depending on the age of the child) impact your life for several years to come. Beyond financial matters, most guardians are chosen at least partly because of the basic human characteristics they display. That includes innate abilities in the areas of affection, humor, sound judgment, patience, practicality, and more.
3) Know Your Rights
As mentioned, being named a guardian can be a humbling and emotional experience. There are times, however, when you’ll be unable or unwilling to accept guardianship responsibilities. There are many reasons why this could be the case, including age, mobility, financial realities, and more. You may have simply had a change of heart since initially accepting. That’s when it’s wise to speak with a DeLand family law attorney who can assist you and the minor child’s parents in finding another viable solution.
It’s also important at this time to recognize that you won’t be punished or jailed if you change your mind about guardianship duties. Instead, early and honest communication remain integral to guarantee the uninterrupted long-term care and safety of minor children.
4) Keep Children Top of Mind
Similarly, remember that the guardian role is designated for the well-being of youth. Along with the mentioned duties, as a guardian, you’ll also be responsible for any damages or accidents caused by minor children, whether they are intentional or not. It’s also best to consider how such a scenario would affect your current family dynamic.
The situation can become more complex when a child is removed from the home due a parent’s inability to parent, including illicit drug abuse, mental instability, and similar events. In these cases, parents may still be granted visitation rights. By speaking with an attorney in DeLand, Florida, you can better understand how this and other possible outcomes could affect your guardianship endeavor.
5) Seek Expert Assistance
Guardianship determinations are very serious decisions as the care of a minor child is at stake. The entire process can seem daunting and even overwhelming, but it doesn’t have to be. Instead, when you work with a trusted and reputable Daytona Beach family law lawyer, you obtain the peace of mind that your concerns are addressed and all matters surrounding your minor children’s long-term well-being have been considered.
Along with family law, our firm specializes in divorce, estate planning, probate, and guardianship. Contact us today to learn more about guardianship and all your legal needs.