Important Things to Know About Becoming a Guardian

A guardianship can be necessary in circumstances where the parents are temporarily incapable of caring for their minor child, or where an adult is unable to care for themselves properly.

This article will explain the basic things you need to do in order to get a guardianship of a minor child or an adult.

1. Becoming a Legal Guardian of a Minor, Generally.

A person may be appointed as a guardian in one of two ways: (1) A parent appoints a guardian, or (2) the court orders the appointment of a guardian. A parent appointed guardianship is a much easier process than a court appointed one.

If you are a parent seeking to plan for a contingency, you should do the following:

  1. Have your desired guardian write a statement identifying themselves, and that they consent to be appointed as a guardian.
  2. Add in a provision into your testamentary document (such as a will) designating the guardian.

For further details regarding this, please see Utah Code 75-5-202.5.

If you are trying to become a guardian because the parents are unfit, you will need to do the following:

  1. Petition the court.
  2. Show that the parents’ rights were terminated, or that they should be temporarily suspended.

2. Proving the Best Interests of the Child

A guardian can only be appointed if it is in the child’s best interest. The court can consider in this analysis the consider the minor’s physical, mental, moral, and emotional health needs.

When petitioning the court, make it clear why you are seeking appointment. Are the parents absent? Do they have a substance abuse problem? These are possible reasons for a guardianship. Do you have a relationship with this child? Detail for the court this relationship. What are some special characteristics of the minor that you can support and help with?

These are questions you need to consider when you are getting ready to submit your guardianship petition. If you need further help, or want a second pair of eyes, we can provide a document review and consultation service to help you start off on the right foot.

3. Other Things to Consider

Here are a few other things to consider. If the child is 14 years of age or older, the court will appoint the guardian the child chooses unless it is not in their best interests.

The court can deny the guardian appointment if the minor is 11 years old or older for various reasons. This includes (1) a certificate from the local police station affirming that the child is not currently charged with any crimes or that he not currently being investigated, or (2) that the superintendent of the school the child has attended has been given permission to review the minor’s criminal record for the past 2 years.

There are other reasons, and if the child you are trying to become guardian of has a problematic past, it is likely in your best interest to speak to us before you pursue the guardianship.

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