Individuals who are deemed physically, emotionally or mentally vulnerable by state law are often required to have legal guardians appointed for their care. While the most common type of legal guardianship involves custody of children who are minors, it can also extend to the elderly as well as physically or mentally incapacitate individuals.
When you want to seek legal guardianship of a child, aging loved one or disabled individual in your family, you must understand the required legal process. You also could improve your likelihood of being awarded guardianship by hiring an attorney who specializes in this area of law.
What is Legal Guardianship?
Legal guardianship is the act of being granted by a court the legal responsibility for and custody of a person. In divorces, for example, one parent is usually granted shared or sole legal guardianship of the couple’s minor children. The judge’s decision awards the parent the right to make most if not all financial, medical and legal decisions for the children.
However, guardianship can also extend to custody of elderly individuals as well as people who are not physically, emotionally or mentally capable of making decisions for themselves. The court can award you guardianship of another person if the judge deems that individual not capable of making safe and practical decisions for himself or herself.
As the guardian, you then would have the responsibility of making sure that person is taken care of and safe. You would be mandated to make all decisions regarding that person’s medical care, finances and legal matters.
When is Legal Guardianship Necessary?
A court can determine that legal guardianship is necessary for another person if that individual suffers from a physical, mental or emotional defect that prohibits him or her from making sound decisions or acting in his or her own best interests.
Someone who suffers from severe mental retardation, for example, cannot physically take care of himself or herself in most cases. This individual also cannot handle tasks like paying bills, scheduling doctor’s appointments or shopping for groceries, among others.
To spare that individual from undue hardship and possible physical or mental risk, the court will award guardianship of him or her to a responsible caretaker. If possible, the person appointed to be the incapacitated individual’s guardian will be a close relative like a parent or sibling. However, when a relative is not available, guardianship may be awarded to a social worker or in-home care provider.
Filing for Legal Guardianship
The process of requesting and winning legal guardianship of someone else involves going to court and formally asking a judge for it. You must file a plethora of legal documents showing that the person in question cannot reasonably take care of himself or herself. You also must appear in one if not several hearings to present your argument and await the judge’s decision.
While you can technically represent yourself in the matter, you may not know what the state’s legal guardianship laws entail. Rather than research them yourself, you can instead hire a lawyer who specializes in family or guardianship law to represent you.
Your lawyer can gather the needed documentation and evidence to show that the person in question cannot take care of himself or herself. Your lawyer can also act quickly to file for injunctions, if necessary, to protect the vulnerable individual and remove him or her from situation that puts his or her safety and physical wellness in jeopardy.
With a lawyer representing you, you could win the legal guardianship that you need to take care of a vulnerable individual. You avoid prolonging the amount of time that this person is at risk and does not have access to resources to keep him or her safe.
Legal guardianship is necessary to protect vulnerable people from undue risk and harm. You can file for and be granted guardianship of an elderly loved one, minors or an incapacitated person by hiring an experienced lawyer to file your case, represent you and make your argument in family court today.
Seek Legal Guidance in Your Ogden Guardianship Matter
If you wish to apply for guardianship over a child, or are seeking to dissolve or change a guardianship, consider speaking with a family law lawyer in the Ogden area. Let the attorneys at Kaufman, Nichols & Kaufman help you navigate through the legal process and answer your questions and concerns.
To learn more about child guardianship and how guardianship laws apply to your case, contact us online or call (801) 752-0499 today to schedule a free initial consultation.