In certain cases, it may be necessary for a court to grant legal authority over a child to someone other than one of the child’s parents. For example, if the parent with custody of a child is unable to provide the care the child needs due to incarceration or mental incompetency. The guardian has the legal authority that a parent would have, and the person under their care is referred to as a ward. If you have questions or legal issues related to guardianship in Michigan, you should contact the family law attorneys at The Smith Law Offices P.C.
Types of Guardianship
Michigan allows for several types of guardianship of a minor, and the one that is appropriate in your situation will depend on your circumstances.
A temporary (or limited) guardianship often arises when a parent or parents decide to voluntarily have their parental rights for a certain period of time. The temporary guardianship should explain why the parents are seeking a guardian, how long it will last, and who will be responsible for supporting the child.
A full guardian has all of the responsibilities and rights that a child’s parent would have. In Michigan, anyone with an interest in a child’s welfare can petition for guardianship, including a child themselves (provided they are over 14). In addition, competent parents can also consent to the guardianship of a child. Some of the more common reasons a court may appoint a full guardian include:
- When the child’s parents pass away
- When the child’s parents disappear
- A judicial determination that the child’s parents are mentally incompetent
- The incarceration of the child’s parents
Filing for Guardianship in Michigan
The process of filing for guardianship over a child in Michigan is extremely complicated, and anyone seeking one should work with an experienced attorney. That said, some of the basic steps include the following:
Petition for Guardianship: To commence the process, a concerned individual, often a relative or close family friend, must submit a formal petition to the court. This document outlines the reasons for seeking guardianship, provides information about the proposed guardian, and details the child’s circumstances.
Filing Fee and Fee Waiver: Filing for guardianship usually requires payment of a filing fee. However, some jurisdictions offer fee waivers for individuals who cannot afford the cost, ensuring that financial constraints do not hinder access to legal protection for vulnerable children.
Consent and Termination of Parental Rights: In cases involving minors, parental consent is typically required unless there are compelling reasons to terminate parental rights. Termination may occur when parents are found to be unfit or incapable of providing a safe and nurturing environment for the child.
Objecting to Guardianship: Interested parties, including parents, have the right to object to the guardianship petition if they believe it is not in the child’s best interests. This may lead to a court hearing where evidence and arguments are presented, with the ultimate goal of determining the child’s welfare.
Consult An Experienced Child Custody Attorney in Michigan
If you are considering seeking guardianship over a child, would like to find a guardian for your child, or oppose a guardianship that someone else is seeking, you should talk to an attorney as soon as you can. To schedule a free case evaluation with a Michigan family lawyer, call our office today or contact us online.