Navigating child custody and family law matters can be difficult, especially when court orders like permanent guardianship are involved. In Michigan, a permanent guardianship is a legal relationship established by the court, giving a guardian the right to care for and make decisions on behalf of a minor who is not their biological child.
Judges won’t implement a permanent guardianship unless it is in the best interests of the child in question. However, life circumstances can change, and there may come a time when either the guardian or the minor wants to terminate the guardianship. If you find yourself in such a predicament, here is what you need to know.
Understanding Permanent Guardianship in Michigan
In Michigan, permanent guardianship gives the designated guardian the responsibility to make critical decisions for a minor, including choosing where they will attend school, whether to undergo certain medical treatments, and more.
Unlike adoption, permanent guardianship does not sever the legal relationship between the child and their parents. Instead, it suspends parental rights without terminating them. This is a suitable arrangement in various situations where parents are unable to fulfill their roles, such as if a parent is incarcerated.
Terminating a Permanent Guardianship
Michigan law clearly outlines several circumstances that will terminate a permanent guardianship, which include:
- Death of the guardian
- Resignation of the guardian
- Removal of guardianship upon the minor’s death, marriage, adoption, or attainment of majority
In the case of a resignation, the guardian is not released from their responsibilities until the petition is approved by the court.
The Legal Process for Termination
To terminate a permanent guardianship, the petitioner must file a motion with the court that originally granted the guardianship. The petitioner could be the guardian, the child in their care, the child’s parent, or another blood relative of the child.
In the motion, the petitioner must provide substantial evidence that the current arrangement is no longer in the child’s best interests. The court will consider factors like the child’s well-being, the stability of the parent’s living situation, and the ability of the parent to meet the child’s needs.
The Court may also appoint a guardian ad litem to represent the child’s interests during the proceedings. The Michigan Courts website provides further details on the legal framework governing these proceedings.
Challenges in Terminating Guardianship
While the law provides a means of terminating permanent guardianships, the process can be difficult. The court’s primary focus is the child’s safety and stability.
A judge has already determined that permanent guardianship was in the best interests of the child. Unless the guardian is willfully requesting to terminate the relationship, the petitioner must provide compelling evidence to change the judge’s mind.
Seeking Legal Counsel
If you need to terminate or modify a permanent guardianship order in Michigan, seeking professional legal guidance can help you build a strong case. Law offices that focus on mediation and family law can assist with your petition for the termination of a permanent guardianship order.