Guardianship Lawyers Helping Clients in Hanover, MA, and Surrounding Areas

Guardianship is a legal relationship in which one person is appointed by the courts to care for another. Guardianship can apply to another adult who is incapable of caring for themselves or a minor child when the parents aren’t able to care for the child. A guardian doesn’t need to be directly related to the person they are caring for, but they do need to be at least 18 themselves, have a clear record, and demonstrate the capabilities necessary in caring for the person in general. In some cases, multiple guardians are appointed by the courts to care for a person.

If you are interested in learning more regarding guardianship, please contact O’Connor Family Law at 774-703-3755 to discuss your specific questions and see what options are best for you.

What Does Guardianship Consist of?

The responsibilities or duties of the Guardian can vary greatly, based on each unique situation. The guardian is, in general, appointed to ensure the lives of the child or other adult continue in a healthy and safe manner. Aside from financial concerns (which aren’t typically covered in guardianship appointments), nearly all other topics can be covered, as determined and stipulated in the Decree and Order. There are both limited and general options for guardianship, and each situation will vary in degree of what is expected based on the needs of the minor child or adult who needs care.

For example, if one or both of the parents in a child’s life are deemed unfit or unable to be present (due to health issues, incarceration, or other situations, such as active military duty) in order to care for the child in question, a guardianship may be formed. The guardian may be a family friend, an aunt/uncle, or other trusted adult.

Some of the common duties and responsibilities of guardians are caring for the daily needs of a minor or incapacitated adult, such as daily hygiene needs, housing, feeding, administering medicine, laundry, and cleaning. Meeting social and physical needs of the person in question is also a goal for the guardian, whether that happens through exercise or fostering social interactions. Making medical decisions can also fall into this category, as well as decisions for educational needs or extracurricular activities.

Guardianship can be categorized as Plenary (complete) Guardianship, where the individual in question isn’t able to make any decisions for themselves and needs complete care. There is also Limited Guardianship, which refers to specific areas in which the individual needs help. They may be able to bathe themselves and feed themselves but are not capable of making medical or safety decisions without assistance, for example. There may be the case of an adult diagnosed with dementia or Alzheimer’s disease, in which case another adult will be named as guardian to protect them and make medical decisions.

A temporary guardian may be named also in the event that the parent has a good chance of being able to regain the ability to make decisions for the child in the future, but they aren’t able to in the present, for example. Temporary guardians typically are responsible for the care of a minor for up to 90 days.

Are Guardianship and Custody the Same?

Though they sound similar in nature, guardianship and custody are not the same. Being a biological parent and caring for a minor relates to custody, and caring for a minor child who isn’t yours can be a guardianship agreement. If there is a guardianship agreement in place, this doesn’t immediately mean the parents no longer have the rights to make decisions in their child’s life. Instead, guardianship is an added benefit for the guardian to be able to make those decisions when the parent isn’t able to do so. The parent who has custody typically retains their authority over decisions and can stipulate which areas they want the guardian to have control of and which issues they specifically don’t want them to have control over.

For example, the parent may be having some addiction issues and may have chosen to (or have been ordered to) enroll in an inpatient treatment facility. While there, they would not be able to handle all issues and concerns that come up in their child’s lives, let alone their day-to-day needs, and therefore a temporary guardian may be named.

In some cases, if it is in the best interest of the minor, the parent’s rights can be revoked or suspended by the courts.