Let’s say that you were asked to take some kids in or you thought it would be best if some kids lived with you for a while.
Let’s also say that the kids you took in are related to you or the kids or parents chose you to take care of the kids. You have taken them in, moved them into your home, changed your and your family’s routine, set up a space for them and all around have stepped into the shoes of their parents.
Then one of the kids gets sick and you take her to the doctor. The doctor’s staff asks you if you are the parent or guardian and BOOM! It hits you…You have no legal authority over the child. At this point, the child is in your home but you don’t have anyone’s permission to take the child to the doctor, enroll her in school or sign her up for activities.
Or let’s imagine that the children’s mom has been using drugs and is unstable. She gets mad and threatens to come pick up the kids from you. You have the kids settled in and comfortable and the last thing you want is for them to be disrupted. But what will you do when mom shows up with the police demanding to get her kids back?
You need legal papers. To some people, that sounds simple. To some people, that sounds scary. It doesn’t have to be scary.
Kinship Guardianship is a type of legal case that you can file to request to be appointed a child’s guardian. You know how most of the parental forms say to be filled out by a parent or guardian? That’s because a guardian has all of the same rights and duties as a parent (except for the right to consent to an adoption and the duty to pay child support).
You can apply for a kinship guardianship if you can meet some criteria:
- You are related to the child, or the child is older than 14 and picked you, or the parents picked you to be the guardian; AND
- The child has lived with you for at least 90 days or the parents are agreeing to the guardianship.
If the parents do not agree to the guardianship, then you must be able to show the judge that the parents are unable or unwilling to provide care for the child.
The thing about these situations though is that you usually cannot wait for the whole case to take it’s course to get the order of guardianship, so there is a process to request a temporary order to go into place quickly while the case is figured out.
If you get the guardianship granted, then you assume all of the responsibilities for the children. The guardianship will stay in place until one or both of the parents can prove that they have their act together and can provide for the children.
Also, if the guardianship is granted, you have the ability to set up a visitation schedule for the children to see their parents or not and you may ask for the parents to pay child support to you to help financially provide for the children.