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If you are a caregiver for a minor child or disabled adult, filing a petition for a guardianship can ensure that you are permitted by law to make decisions for the person who is the incapacitated either because he or she is a minor or due to a mental or physical impairment. Understanding the process can help give you peace of mind going forward.
A guardianship may be necessary when a person is unable to care for themselves either because they are a minor or because they lack the capacity to make decisions regarding their healthcare and finances. The person who is the subject of a guardianship is known as a “ward.” When the ward is a minor child, natural parents are presumed to be the guardians.
A common scenario when a guardianship is needed is when a minor child's biological parents are unable to care for the child. Courts will consider a child's best interests when deciding who to appoint to be a guardian for a minor child. Often, caregivers who are already taking care of a minor child will petition a court to be appointed.
Biological parents may consent to a guardianship, and doing so can sometimes help all parties avoid the emotional experience of going through contested litigation. Alternatively, a parents fitness to raise a child may become a contested issue in a guardianship case. Common scenarios that may cause a guardianship to be needed include the following:
A guardianship may either be of the “person” or of the “estate.” A guardianship over the person allows the guardian to make decisions such as where the ward will attend school and receive medical treatment. A guardianship of the estate allows the guardian to make decisions regarding the ward's finances.
A guardianship may either be temporary or permanent. A temporary guardianship may last for a certain number of days, as specified in a court's order. Temporary guardianships may become permanent after a hearing where any interested parties will have a chance to present evidence to request that a court grant or deny the guardianship.
If an adult has become incapacitated and unable to make decisions regarding their own healthcare or finances, it may be possible to petition a court to appoint a guardian so that the guardian can make decisions on the ward's behalf. Unlike a guardianship for a minor child, an adult guardianship usually requires more proof regarding the mental and physical condition of the ward, such as an affidavit from a physician and a hearing where the ward will have an opportunity to contest the appointment of a guardian.
To be appointed as a guardian, the guardian must meet the following qualifications:
A guardianship may be terminated when the guardianship is no longer necessary and when termination of the guardianship is in the ward's best interests. Parents who consented to a guardianship previously may request a court review of the guardianship and termination of it by revoking their consent to it as long as they were not previously found unfit.
A guardianship may terminate automatically when a condition in a previous court order is met, such as when a minor child reaches age 18 or is emancipated by a court.
Do you have questions about petitioning for a guardianship in Arkansas? Perhaps you have been served with paperwork regarding a guardianship or want to terminate an existing guardianship? Contact Laura Avery for a consultation today by calling (501) 725-1100 or fill out our online form.
Avery Law Office
300 S. Spring St. Suite 1015 Little Rock, AR 72201
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