What Is a Legal Guardian?
Put simply, a legal guardian is a non-parent who takes care of a child. This includes providing food, shelter, access to education, and medical care. A legal guardian has all the legal responsibilities of a parent with regard to care and support. What differentiates guardianship from adoption is that a caretaker does not need to terminate a child’s legal relationship to his or her parents in order to be a legal guardian.
While some legal guardians can be state-appointed (i.e. foster care), many legal guardians are already related to the child in their care. Many aunts, uncles, or grandparents will become guardians when parents either cannot or will not take care of their own children. This allows parents to remain in proximity to their children without needing to be responsible for them.
Why Become a Legal Guardian?
Legal guardianship is advantageous for long-term care. For example, hospitals and schools often require limit the caretaking role to biological parents—the only legal exception to this are guardians. Guardianship provides a temporary way of providing the same care and love that a parent may be unable to offer.
At The Harris Law Firm, we believe in the role that guardians serve in our society. We advocate for children both through our professional work and through our volunteer work—many of our attorneys are voluntary Guardian Ad Litems, or court-appointed guardians. However, not even GALs can offer the love and stability that a legal guardian can give on a long-term basis from home.
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If you are considering applying for legal guardianship, we support and applaud your efforts. All children deserve to be provided for, regardless of their parenting situation. Our experienced family law attorneys can help you file the necessary paperwork and take the necessary steps to become a legal guardian. We offer “unbundled” legal services, meaning that we can offer limited and cost-effective services when you have a specific need. If you plan to become a legal guardian, we would consider our privilege to aid your efforts.