Understanding Guardianship of a Minor Child When Parenting Is Inadequate

When the parents of a minor child cannot adequately care for the youngster for one reason or another, a third party may be designated the child’s guardian. This person has legal custody of this boy or girl, with the obligation to care for the youngster and the right to make important decisions on his or her behalf. Anyone who needs legal representation in this type of situation may begin with the website

Stringent Standards for Determining Inadequate Parenting

If the parents do not agree to relinquish legal custody, a court or family services agency must determine that they are unfit to care for the child. The standards for declaring someone to be an unfit parent are stringent. For example, someone with an intellectual disability may still be a good parent. The mental disability is not sufficient grounds to remove a child from custody.

Who Becomes the Guardian?

Typically, guardianship is granted to a close relative of the boy or girl, such as grandparents, an aunt and uncle, or an adult sibling. A trusted close friend may qualify to become a guardian. Guardianship also may be granted to a qualified foster parent who has already been caring for the youngster.

Petitioning and Contesting

A concerned outside party can file to become a guardian, and the parents may contest this petition. If a judge decides in favor of the petitioner, the parents will be provided with a document known as a treatment plan. They must successfully complete the goals in this plan in order to regain custody of the child.

Temporary and Limited Guardianships

In many cases, a temporary guardianship is set up through an organization like Tulsa Divorce Attorneys and Associates. This arrangement generally lasts for six months, at which time it is reviewed. A temporary arrangement may be the best solution when the situation can be considered an emergency or when one of the parents may soon be able to effectively care for the boy or girl. An example would be a single parent who is about to enter residential drug rehabilitation and plans to stay for at least 90 days. The guardian may be granted limited decision-making rights instead of full control.