Establishing Guardianship Is A Selfless Expression Of Love

In situations when parents are unable or unwilling to care for a minor child, another family member or someone who is close to the family may step in and provide a stable home. Often, what begins as an informal arrangement evolves into a permanent or long-term situation. In these instances, a person or a couple may wish to become a child's legal guardian.

To become the legal guardian of a child under 18 years old, you must file a petition in the family and probate court in the county where the youth lives. The child must have lived in Massachusetts for six months in order for the court to have jurisdiction.

A child who is 14 years old or older has a legal right to suggest someone be appointed guardian or object to someone who has requested to become a legal guardian.

Guardianship allows a caregiver to make legal decisions on behalf of a minor child regarding education, health care and welfare. Massachusetts courts are hesitant to appoint someone other than a child's parents as legal guardian unless the parents are deceased, have provided written consent, or the parents are unfit or unable to care for the child. I am Rebecca E. Rogers, an experienced family law attorney who can assist you in pursuing guardianship.

We Will Help You Navigate The Complex Guardianship Process

Grandparents, uncles, aunts and other relatives may seek guardianship because the child's parents are absent, abusive, wrestling with addiction problems, unable to cope financially or dealing with mental illness.

If a child's birth parents or adoptive parents do not consent to guardianship, Massachusetts courts must determine whether the parents are unfit to continue serving as the child's guardians. In order to be deemed "unfit," the courts have stated that parents must suffer from "grievous shortcomings or handicaps that put the child's welfare much at hazard."

You are not required to work with a lawyer when filing for legal guardianship, but the process is complex and the outcome is important. I can answer your questions regarding guardianship during a free consultation. Call or use our online contact form to schedule an appointment.

I work with clients in Essex County and Middlesex County and the surrounding counties from offices in Lynnfield and North Reading.